Best Calf-Stretching Devices

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

12 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
271 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best calf stretchers

Last Updated November 2019

It’s essential that your calf muscles are loose enough to allow your ankles to express their full range of motion. If you are an athlete, taking care of your calves should be one of your top priorities. If you are recovering from an injury, your doctor or physical therapist may recommend stretching your calf muscles regularly. There are many exercises that you can do, but they can only take you so far. If you want to get the most impressive results, you’ll need a calf-stretching device.

However, not all calf stretchers are suitable for everyone. The best calf stretcher allows you to safely and confidently stretch your calf muscles to the appropriate degree. Your calf-stretching device must be strong enough to support your weight and durable enough to be used every day. Additionally, you’ll want a model that fits comfortably within your budget.

Our buying guide includes all the features to consider when shopping for calf stretchers. If you’re ready to buy a calf stretcher, consider one of our top five products in the matrix above.

Any time you move your calf past its limits, you tear muscle fibers. Regular, gentle stretching with a calf stretcher allows you to maintain a full range of motion without causing injury to the muscle.

Key considerations

There are a few different types of calf-stretching devices on the market. Each has its pros and cons. Depending on the type of stretching you need to do, you may find that one type is better suited to your needs.

Foam rollers

A foam roller is like a pool noodle. It is a cylindrical piece of foam that you place on the floor and rest your outstretched legs over. As you roll back and forth, you’ll feel a gentle kneading of your calf muscles. Alternatively, there are half-round foam rollers that you can place the balls of your feet on to get a more dynamic stretch while standing. Foam rollers are inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to use, but they don’t provide a high level of intensity.

Calf stretcher straps

You use a calf stretcher strap by wrapping it around your foot or slipping your foot into a loop and then gently pulling the strap to move your toes toward your shin. The beauty of this type of stretching device is that you are in complete control of the tension of the stretch. Straps are also lightweight and reasonably priced. The downside is that straps may be a little abrasive on your skin.

Incline boards

An incline board is a small board that is usually made of wood, though inexpensive models may use plastic or foam. When you stand on the incline, it forces your toes up, making a sharper angle at your ankle to stretch out your calf muscles. The best models have an adjustable incline, but you always need to be sure the incline’s not too steep as you are committed to the full stretch once both feet are on the board. Wood incline boards can be pricey. Additionally, they are heavier than other types of calf-stretching devices, but they are very easy to use.

Rockers

These calf-stretching devices look like curved pedals. Typically, they are manufactured using durable plastic, but they can be made of wood as well. You will need to support yourself with a wall or chair when using a rocker because these devices are not very stable and you can rock too deep into the stretch and injure yourself. However, these calf stretchers do tend to offer the deepest stretch. They are reasonably priced and have a slight learning and comfort curve, but once you get the hang of them, they can be more effective than other types of calf-stretching devices.

DID YOU KNOW?

In order to walk, your ankle must be able to flex enough so that your toes can move toward your shin at least 15 degrees. If your calf muscle is too tight, this can’t happen.

Features

Size

Most calf-stretching devices can accommodate any foot size. The only calf stretchers that may pose a problem are straps that have loops that are too tiny for larger feet or rockers that are too small for larger shoe sizes.

Weight limit

Be sure the calf-stretching device you are considering is rated to handle your full body weight. With most devices, that’s not a problem. However, certain incline boards might not be able to support heavier people.

Slip-resistant

The last thing you want while trying to heal is to step onto a rocker and have it slide across the floor, causing you to fall and further injure yourself. Be sure that whatever type of calf-stretching device you get, it’s slip-resistant. And don’t just rely on the manufacturer’s advertising copy. To be safe, test your model before putting your full weight on it.

Adjustable stretch

Some types of calf stretchers are best for shallow stretching like foam rollers, while others are designed to stretch deeply like rockers. However, some incline boards have several settings, which allows you to adjust the stretch to your needs.

Calf stretcher prices

Calf stretchers range in price from less than $10 to more than $70, depending on the type of device.

At the low end, you can find durable foam devices that you can stand on. These calf stretchers do not offer as deep of a stretch, but they aren’t bad for getting started.

From $15 to $25, you can find a wide variety of calf-stretching devices, from incline boards to rockers. You can also find durable stretching straps in this price range.

In the $25 to $50 range, the products are a little more rugged, using materials other than plastic. As you move above $50, rockers and incline boards are mostly crafted from wood.

EXPERT TIP

Initially, the instability of a rocker calf stretcher can cause you to feel unsteady. It is essential to support yourself while using a rocker and be careful not to exceed your comfort limits.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Many people give up too soon on calf-stretching devices because it takes time to see results. It is important to set up and faithfully follow a strict regimen in order to experience the maximum benefits of these devices.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

To get the most out of your calf-stretching device, you need to be certain you are using it correctly. An aggressive approach could lead to more harm than good. Here are a few tips to help you achieve success with your new device.

  • Before beginning any new stretching regimen, check with your doctor or physical therapist to be sure that it is a good approach.

  • Seeing results can take time. It is important to be patient and faithfully perform your stretches every day to see the greatest benefits.

  • Dress comfortably for your stretching session. Do not wear clothing that may inhibit your movement.

  • Be sure you are wearing shoes that won’t slip or slide as a sudden jolt could damage your calf muscles.

  • No matter which calf stretcher you use, you need to be stable and steady so you don't hurt yourself. Usually, this means leaning against a wall or holding onto a countertop or chair to maintain your balance.

  • Do not bounce. Instead, gradually slide into the stretch until you feel a little tension, not pain.

  • Stretching should not hurt. If you feel pain, you should stop using your calf-stretching device immediately and consult your doctor or physical therapist.

  • It really doesn’t require much time to stretch your calves. Just three 30-second sets per muscle is enough.

  • By bending or twisting at your waist, it is possible to focus on different muscles.

  • You can change the intensity of your stretch by slightly bending your leg at the knee.

Other products we considered

Since everyone’s needs differ, here are a few more calf stretchers that may be better suited for those with slightly different stretching needs. The Pro-Tec Athletics Calf Stretcher is an affordable, high-density, half-round foam roller that can be used for promoting balance and blood flow. It’s also an effective way to stretch your calf muscles. The OPTP Original Stretch Out Strap is a 6’4” woven nylon strap that features 10 loops. This device can be used for a wide variety of exercises, is highly portable, and allows you to perform unassisted stretches with a great deal of control. Lastly, if you like incline boards but want something a little more forgiving than wood, the OPTP Foam Incline Board is a foam incline board specifically designed for stretching out your calves, ankles, and feet.

To stretch the calf muscle, you need to raise your toes to create a V shape at your ankle. The deeper the V, the deeper the stretch.

FAQ

Q. What do the calf muscles do?

A. The calf muscle is actually a couple of muscles: the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle. These are the muscles that allow you to walk, run, jump, or just stand still without falling over. They are also essential for circulation as the calf muscles drive blood back up to your heart. You need healthy, fully functional calf muscles to lead an active life.

Q. What kinds of problems can arise from tight calves?

A. Because the calves are essential to everyday living and day-to-day activities, numerous problems can result from tight calf muscles. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common and most painful problems. This condition can make it difficult to get out of bed each morning for fear of the sharp pain that accompanies that first step. Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, back pain, and even headaches can also be caused by a tight or injured calf muscle.

Q. How can stretching my calves benefit me?

A. Depending on your job or lifestyle, your calf muscles may be contracted for several hours at a time every day. Because they are under such constant strain and stress, calf muscles will begin to shorten if you do not regularly take them gently through their full range of motion. Daily stretching of your calves allows you to continue living a full, active, pain-free life.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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