Our heels were designed to be grounded, to make literal contact with the earth. Our feet were meant to be worked, meaning all the tiny muscles built to traverse a wide variety of terrain would be used daily. At least that's the ideal for optimal biological function, because all of our parts and pieces need to be stimulated.
Our lives, for the most part, require that we wear shoes. And our shoes happen to be padded, with a heel (even sneakers)....cushiony soft with the toes angled slightly lower than the heel, or much lower in many cases. What this shoe design leaves us with, as years turn into decades, is the actual shortening of the muscles in the back of the lower leg, as well as distortion around the ankle and shin. And, why that matters is the upper leg, hip, and the spine are also impacted. When any portion of the body is limited in its ability to function through the whole range of motion it was designed for, every other part is affected. Alignment, meaning how our body parts stack on top of one another, gets altered for the worse. And, it's not just about what you might notice in terms of easy, pain free movement, or not. On a deeper level, it's about circulation, fluid exchange, and cellular health.
There are several of ways to work with this: One, go barefoot as often as you can. If there is pain, you will have to work into it slowly, and that is an issue I will address more specifically at another time. Two, wear barefoot shoes, which I'll also be writing about here shortly. Three, do this calf stretch often to counter shoe wearing and the lack of natural movement in the feet, ankles, legs, and hips, which happens, well, because we don't live like our ancestors. Which is so good in so many ways. Most of us have more ease, comfort, and convenience than they could have imagined. And maybe not so good in other ways, as we have lost the need for much of the movement that would do a body right.