Human calves (on the back of the lower legs), primarily consist of gastrocnemius muscles. The primary role of calf muscles is to help flexion and extend the knees and feet. Large calves are either genetic or result from accumulation of excessive fat in this part of the body. No matter what the reason, large, bulky calves look really odd. However, the good thing is that through stretching exercise and healthy eating routine, you can shrink them. Walking, climbing stairs, running and cycling all work on calves and help tone calf muscles. Here are some stretch exercises that you can use to tone your lower legs.

Standing stretch

Stand on the floor with your feet pointing forward and with your right foot in front of the left. Flex your right knee until it is over your ankle; pause and gradually push your left foot farther behind, until you feel a stretch in your left calf. Increase the intensity of the stretch by pushing the left heel downward. Hold the position for 45 to 60 seconds before switching feet. Do 8 to 10 repetitions with each foot.

Seated stretch

Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you, hands on the sides and feet flexed. Take a strap and loop it around the ball of your right foot, holding the ends of the strap in both hands. Make sure your backbone is perpendicular to the floor. Now gently pull the strap, bringing your toes toward you and pressing the heel away from you. Hold the stretch for half a minute and then relax. Repeat the flexion two to four times on each foot. To shift the stretch to a different muscle in the calf, slightly bend your free knee over the strapped leg.

Stick to a weight loss diet

Determine whether your calves are carrying extra flab. If so, you may also need to revise your diet plan, reducing the intake of high-fat and high-calorie foods. If you are overweight, your calves will naturally retain additional weight. Reducing your overall body weight may help reduce the girth of your calves, and one of the best ways to lose extra pounds is to eat sensibly. Substitute unhealthy, saturated fat with healthy unsaturated fat. Also avoid deep fried foods, such as potato chips, French fries etc. Instead, increase your intake of fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods that are low in calories and rich in dietary fiber.