“Getting fit and losing weight” probably made it to our New Year Resolutions (again), and one of the simplest way to do so is to run. All you need is a pair of Adidas, good music, and you’re ready to go! Running helps strengthen our lungs, bones and muscles, shed plenty of calories, prevent diseases like high blood pressure and breast cancer, relieve stress and… Ah, the adrenaline at the end of the run is one of the best feelings on earth.
However, some of us are a little afraid that running too much might translate to not-so-desirable, huge calves. Well, great news! This isn’t entirely true.
Running can be roughly categorised into two main types: sprinting and long-distance running. While both help you to get fit and lose weight, they work different muscle fibres. Sprinting activates the fast twitch muscle fibres (meant for strength), which help grow our calves. On the other hand, long-distance running activates the slow twitch muscle fibres (meant for endurance), which require many more repetitions in order for our calves to grow. Hence, if you want to make sure you don’t get huge calves from your regular runs, opt for the latter. Here are more tips to help maintain slimmer-looking calves while keeping a running habit:
Tip #1: Go the distance
Do what the marathon runners do! Run slower (than the sprinters), but run far. Try to run on flat ground to avoid any resistance. This will reduce the fat around the calf muscles and ensure that our calves become long, lean and slim.
Tip #2: Yoga the calves away
We all know that yoga works great at developing toned and lean muscles. To target our calves, try the following 2 simple poses:
Downward Facing Dog: Start in the Table Top Position and slowly walk your knees back and lifte them till they are straightened. Keep your spine straight and fingers spread out. More details can be found here.
Paschimottanasa (Seated Forward Bend): Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Exhale and bend to reach your toes. Make sure that your legs are pressed firmly onto the ground and try to keep your spine straight. More details can be found here.
Or try out these poses that are well-loved by dancers.
Tip #3: Stretch, stretch, stretch
After exercising, always remember to stretch. This helps loosen tight muscles, increase our flexibility and at the same time, lengthen our calve muscles. One of our favourite and simple calf stretch involves standing with your legs straight on the edge of a raised step and dipping the heels as low as possible for about 30 seconds to a minute. Or you can also try the Wall Calf Stretch, Curb Stretch and Seated Calf Stretch here.
Tip #4: Do less of leg exercises that work on speed and strength
Such exercises include sprints and resistance training, such as walking on the treadmill inclined and stair climber. These are meant for those who want to develop strong calf muscles.
Tip #5: Healthy diet for speedy muscle recovery
Lastly, keep a healthy and balanced diet of water, healthy carbs, lean meat, vegetables and fruits. This aids the recovery of our muscles and ensures that our body is in prime condition for our next run. Check out our fitness section for more diet tips!
Psst, just in case you were wondering, wearing heels do not build calf muscles as much as we think they do, according to a recent study done. But they do stiffen up and shorten our tendons which puts us at a higher probability of sustaining injuries. So wear those Manolo Blahniks, but do give your feet a break from time to time!