How do you test end range calf strength?

assessment Mar 31, 2023

End-range calf strength can be a reflection of adequate soleus muscle strength. The larger of the calf muscles, the soleus, is critical for running as it takes 6.5-8 times body weight during running (Dorn 2014).

Testing end-range calf strength is important because it can help identify any weakness or imbalance in the muscles of the lower leg. This can be particularly helpful for athletes or individuals who engage in activities that require significant lower leg strength and stability, such as running, jumping, and cutting movements.

Weakness or imbalance in the calf muscles can increase the risk of injury, particularly to the Achilles tendon or ankle joint. By identifying any weaknesses or imbalances early on, individuals can work to correct them through targeted exercises and prevent potential injuries from occurring. Additionally, testing end-range calf strength can be helpful for tracking progress and evaluating the effectiveness of any interventions or training programs aimed at improving lower leg strength and stability.

How to test end-range calf strength?  

We use a number of tests including:

  • Soleus calf raise height test:

Standing on both feet, raise up as high as you can. Then lift one foot off the ground. Can you maintain this high heel raise?

  • Soleus raise endurance test:

The Soleus raise endurance test is a simple and effective way to measure the endurance of your calf muscles. Here are the steps to perform the test:

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, facing a wall or sturdy object that you can hold onto for balance.

2. Raise up onto the balls of your feet, lifting your heels as high as possible then take one leg off the ground.

3. Hold this position for as long as you can, aiming for at least 30 seconds.

4. Lower your heels back down to the ground and rest for 30 seconds.

5. Repeat the test two more times, for a total of three attempts.

6. Record the time you were able to hold the position for each attempt.

7. Calculate your average time by adding up the three times and dividing by three.

  • Bent knee single-leg calf raise test:

Here are the steps:

1. Stand on one leg with the other foot lifted off the ground.

2. Slowly rise up onto the ball of your foot, lifting your heel as high as possible.

3. Hold the position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your heel back down to the ground.

4. Repeat the test on the other leg.

To make the test more challenging, you can perform it on a raised surface such as a step or a sturdy block. You can also add weight by holding a dumbbell or wearing a weighted vest.

How to improve end-range calf strength?

 There are a few options which include (ensure you hit end range in all of these):
  • Loaded toe walks

  • Seated calf raise

  • Soleus wall sit

  • Soleus lunge

  • Bent knee calf raises

Learn many other calf and running assessments in our MAT Courses

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