Heel Raises: Strengthening Calves and Overcoming Tendinopathy7 min read


Heel raises are an essential exercise for individuals seeking to improve lower leg stability and overall muscle function. This comprehensive guide will delve into the intricacies of heel raises, including their importance in maintaining proper biomechanics and preventing injury.

We will explore the specific muscles targeted by heel raises, such as the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles within the calf area. Additionally, we’ll discuss various types of heel raise exercises like eccentric and standing variations that can be incorporated into your workout routine.

Furthermore, you’ll learn how to perform proper heel raises with detailed instructions on correct starting position, concentric phase execution, and eccentric phase execution. We’ll also examine how this powerful exercise can help treat Achilles tendinopathy through in-shoe lifts and eccentric calf muscle exercises.

Finally, our discussion will touch upon unique applications of heel raises for individuals with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), as well as a comparison between traditional calf raises versus these specialized movements. Stay tuned for valuable insights that may enhance your physical activity regimen!

Table of Contents:

Heel Raises: The Ultimate Calf Exercise

Heel raises, also known as calf raises, are a simple yet effective exercise for improving ankle plantarflexion muscle performance and strength.

Improve Your Ankle Plantarflexion Muscle Performance

Heel raises target the triceps surae muscles responsible for ankle plantar flexion, knee flexion, and overall lower leg stability, making them essential for activities that require force production through your feet like walking uphill or downhill surfaces.

Strengthen Your Triceps Surae Muscles

  • Gastrocnemius: This powerful calf muscle propels your body forward during running or jumping movements and provides necessary support around joints located within lower extremity regions when standing upright on one’s toes.
  • Soleus: Located deep beneath the gastrocnemius, it helps maintain balance by stabilizing foot positioning against ground contact forces experienced throughout each step taken.

Incorporating heel raises into your exercise routine can lead to numerous benefits such as improved bone health, increased calf muscle mass, and enhanced body weight distribution capabilities during physical activity participation.

Prevent and Alleviate Symptoms of Achilles Tendinopathy

Heel raises can also help prevent or alleviate symptoms associated with conditions like mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy by promoting proper biomechanical alignment strategies within affected regions through targeted strengthening interventions focused specifically around these key muscle groups involved directly in ankle plantar flexion force production processes overall.

So, what are you waiting for? Start your heel raises progression 2 today and give your calf muscles and Achilles tendon the love they deserve.

Eccentric vs Concentric Heel Raises

Eccentric heel raises lengthen muscles while concentric heel raises shorten them, both have benefits, but eccentric exercises may be more beneficial in treating Achilles tendinopathy.

Differences between Eccentric and Concentric Movements

  • Eccentric: Controlled lengthening of muscles against resistance increases strength and flexibility.
  • Concentric: Shortening of muscles under tension builds power and speed.

Incorporating both movements into your routine can ensure well-rounded calf development and lower leg strength.

Treating Achilles Tendinopathy with Eccentric Heel Raises

A study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that eccentric calf strengthening improved symptoms related to mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy.

To perform eccentric heel raises:

  1. Stand on a raised surface with heels hanging off the edge.
  2. Raise both heels by pushing through the balls of your feet.
  3. Slowly lower one heel down below the level of the step while keeping your knee straight.
  4. Return to starting position and repeat for desired reps before switching legs.

Consult with a healthcare professional if experiencing pain or discomfort during this exercise.

Standing vs Seated Calf Raises

Standing and seated calf raises target different muscles in the calf area, with standing heel raises primarily targeting the gastrocnemius muscle and seated calf raises targeting the soleus muscle.

  • Standing heel raise: Lift heels off the ground while keeping body weight on the balls of your feet.
  • Seated calf raise: Perform while sitting on a bench or chair with knees bent at approximately 90 degrees.

Both exercises are important for a well-rounded lower leg strengthening program that addresses both major calf area components for optimal bone health, maximal strength gains, and overall body weight support capabilities throughout various types of physical activities requiring ankle plantar flexion force production capacities such as walking uphill/downhill surfaces etcetera.

For those with mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy, calf muscle eccentric exercise can be beneficial in reducing pain and improving function.

When performing a single-limb heel raise test, maximal strength can be assessed by measuring the number of heel raises completed before fatigue sets in.

In-Shoe Heel Lifts for Achilles Tendinopathy Treatment

Got Achilles tendinopathy? In-shoe heel lifts may be the answer.

Comparing Effectiveness of Different Treatment Options

A study found that in-shoe heel lifts and calf muscle eccentric exercise programs were equally effective at improving symptoms related to mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy.

Improving Symptoms with Regular Practice

  • In-Shoe Heel Lifts: Reduce tension on the Achilles tendon during daily activities like walking or running.
  • Calf Muscle Eccentric Exercise: Lengthen and strengthen calf muscles over time without causing excessive strain on already injured tissues.

Consult a medical expert before initiating any fresh therapy or exercise program.

Proper Technique and Precautions for Performing Heel Raises

Performing heel raises with proper form and technique is crucial to avoid injury, especially for those with pre-existing medical conditions or injuries.

Importance of Correct Form While Executing Exercises

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart on a flat surface or step for increased range of motion.
  • Engage abdominal muscles and maintain good posture throughout the movement.
  • Raise heels off the ground by pushing through the balls of both feet until maximal height, then slowly lower back down.
  • Avoid bouncing or swaying side-to-side; focus on controlled movements.

Consulting Healthcare Professionals If Needed

Individuals with health concerns like Achilles tendinopathy or bone health problems should consult a qualified healthcare professional before incorporating heel raises into their fitness routine.

  • Healthcare professionals can provide guidance on exercise appropriateness based on factors like body weight, physical activity levels, and muscle fiber composition.
  • A licensed physical therapist can help develop a customized exercise program that safely addresses unique needs.

FAQs in Relation to Heel Raises

Why are Heel Raises Important?

Heel raises are essential because they strengthen the calf muscles, improve ankle stability and flexibility, and enhance overall lower body strength. These exercises also help prevent injuries like Achilles tendinitis and shin splints while improving athletic performance in activities that require jumping or running. (source)

Are Heel Raises Good for You?

Yes, heel raises are beneficial as they target the triceps surae muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus), which play a crucial role in walking, running, and maintaining balance. Regular practice of this exercise can lead to improved muscle tone, reduced risk of injury, better sports performance, and enhanced functional mobility.

What are the Effects of Heel Raises?

The primary effects of performing heel raises include increased calf muscle strength; improved ankle stability; greater range of motion at the ankle joint; enhanced proprioception (body awareness); prevention of common lower leg injuries such as Achilles tendinopathy; and improvement in athletic abilities like sprinting or jumping.

Do Heel Raises Increase Speed?

Heel raises can contribute to increasing speed by strengthening the calf muscles responsible for propelling your body forward during sprints or runs. A stronger push-off force from these muscles leads to faster acceleration rates while minimizing fatigue during prolonged activity. (source)


Heel raises are a simple yet effective exercise that can help improve lower leg stability and strength. By targeting the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, heel raises can also aid in treating Achilles tendinopathy and improving ankle plantarflexion muscle performance for those with multiple sclerosis.

There are different types of heel raise exercises, including eccentric and standing variations, each with their own benefits. Proper execution is key to maximizing the benefits of this exercise.

If you’re looking to improve your lower leg strength or treat an injury, give heel raises a try! Check out Fitness Mind for more information on incorporating heel raises into your fitness routine.


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