We have all heard the old refrain, " The toe bone is connected to the foot bone and the foot bone is connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone is connected to the leg bone...". This is and old rhyme used to teach anatomy to children.
However, most folks do not realize that not only are the bone connected, but they work together as well. What one bone shifts or moves , it will effect the position and structure of other bones that connect to it.
They same is true to groups of bones. Take the foot for instance. The foot connects to the ankle. The ankle connects to the leg. Movement of the foot therefore will effect the action of the leg and visa versa, contracture of the muscles of the leg will effect the movement and position of the foot.
The leg muscles contract normally to help lift the heel bone and push the leg forward during walking. One can see and feel this if they concentrate when they walk. You can feel the calf tighten as the foot gets onto the ball of the foot and the calf squeezes and the foot will push forward. Walking, climbing stairs, running are all activities that will tighten the calf as the muscles must squeeze to help the foot push forward. In fact the only exercise that will stretch the calf is stretching the calf.
Abnormal movement of the foot,usually exhibited by abnormal lowering of the arch which occurs to all of us as we get older from wear and tear as well as by genetics, will cause excessive tightening of the calf muscles. However as the calf muscles tighten, the foot will work more abnormally. This unfortunately will cause the calf muscles to tighten more and the process goes on. Eventually the foot assumes an abnormal position and the calf muscle is excessively tight. This situation usually will cause an overload syndrome of the foot and is a great cause of the development of tendinitis, synovitis, bone bruises, foot fatigue and muscle cramping.
Often times stretching the calf several times a day will help maintain the normal flexibility of the calf and help maintain the normal function of the foot.