Tight calf muscles are a common problem for runners. They can occur naturally as your body reacts to the stress put on the muscles (known as the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) while running. The most typical symptoms of tight calf muscles are pain, convulsions, or a “pulling” experience when you point or bend the foot.
You can decrease your risk of injury by prepping the calves in advance of a kept up a series of basic stretches. Routine stretching at the fitness center can likewise help keep the muscles supple and avoid the extreme contraction of tissues between runs.
Causes and Symptoms
Running is a high-impact activity that positions repeated stress on the calf muscles. Calf tightness can vary from one person to the next. The majority of people will experience tightness prior to a run which reduces as they start to hit their stride.
Other runners will experience tightness while running. For this group, the issue frequently originates from biomechanical problems in which the foot strikes the ground unevenly and puts extreme stress on the calf muscles.
Tight calf muscles may lead to overpronation in which the heel rolls inward as you take a step. A poor shoe fit and/or an improperly supported foot arch can also do the same.
The issue can be additional exacerbated by dehydration. The quick loss of salt through sweat can activate muscle cramps in the lower extremities, most specifically the feet and calves. Appropriate hydration prior to, during, and after a run can help prevent this.
While the treatment of tight calf muscles can vary by the underlying cause, stretching tends to enhance most symptoms if carried out properly. To do so securely:
- Never ever hurry a stretch. Stretch gradually and hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Do not stretch through pain. If you feel pain during any part of a stretch, ease back and keep mild pressure up until the muscle relaxes by itself. If the pain persists, stop.
- Always stretch both sides. This ensures your gait is balanced.
- Never bounce when stretching. Doing so will increase your risk of a strain or rupture.
Stretching Exercises for Soleus and Calf Muscles
If you experience a charley horse, self-massage and gentle stretching can typically help ease the spasms. Attempt taking a lunge position with your good leg forward and your cramped leg extended back. You can likewise stand on your tiptoes for a couple of seconds to carefully minimize the cramp.5.
In the pain is severe, an ice bag can provide relief, followed by a non-prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug like Advil (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen). A sports drink might likewise assist by quickly bring back fluids and electrolytes if you are dehydrated.
If the calf tightness is chronic and causing problems, think about seeing a physiotherapist or sports massage therapist. Numerous courses of deep tissue massage can typically help together with warm-water hydrotherapy.7 Some therapists may recommend a plantar fasciitis night splint to prevent the muscle from taking up when you sleep.
Research has shown that day-to-day muscle stretching enhances blood circulation to skeletal muscles.
Tight calf muscles are more often the result of inadequate stretching complicated by a hidden foot or gait irregularity. To this end, there are numerous things you can do to prevent them from happening:.
- Try to never ever run cold. Constantly stretch before a run and cool off when you complete. This is specifically true in cold weather.
- See those hills. It is easy to overdo it on a hill run when you are bounding on your toes and hyperextending your calves. Either decrease or take breaks when browsing a high incline.
- Avoid repetition. If your calves had a hectic workout one day, don’t follow up with the same routine the next. Repetitive stress is more likely to set off a charley horse or injury.
- Keep hydrated during a run. If running on a hot day, rehydrate frequently with an electrolyte-rich sports drink.
- Make stretching a part of your fitness center regimen. Even simple toe and heel raises can keep the calve muscles from seizing up in between runs. Yoga is also beneficial to runners who are experiencing tightness.
- Get the right shoes: If you are a devoted runner, purchase a correctly fitted set of shoes from a specialist running shop. If you have high arches or flat feet, consult with a podiatric doctor about custom-made orthotics or insoles.
Pre-Running Preparation to Protect Your Calves
Overloading the Calf
When attempting to figure out the cause of your calf pain, first look for any recent changes to your workout. Hill or speed work, increased strength and increased mileage can typically be discovered at the root of the majority of calf issues. Sadly, the only solution to cure a tired muscle is rest– working out an already overworked calf muscle might only compound your issues. After a couple of days, resume your previous activities, gradually developing to your wanted intensity or mileage in order to avoid tiring your calf muscle out too much.
If you’re new to physical fitness and your calves keep hurting, consider integrating calf raises into your workout. Cardiovascular activity need to constantly be supplemented by conditioning exercises in order to help develop muscle. Calf raises can be made with no unique equipment and customized according to physical fitness level. Base on one leg with your fingertips against a wall or table for balance – ensure you are not supporting or bracing yourself with your hand. Rise on your toes, then lower yourself back down. Do as a lot of these as possible, then switch legs and repeat. One complete repeating includes increasing all the way on your toe, not just lifting your heel. Aim for at least 40 reps on each leg, but if you find that this workout activates pain in your calves again, stop and change legs. Total 2 to 3 sets, resting for one minute in between sets. Do not carry out calf-strengthening exercises the very same day as a run.
Downward Facing Dog
Never ever avoid stretching prior to and after an exercise. Start in a pushup position, then lower yourself onto your elbows, making certain to keep your back and butt straight. Raise your hips so that you make an upside-down “V” shape with your body. Spread your fingers broad. You must be rather forward on your toes. Press each heel down to the ground one at a time. To deepen the stretch, press down on one foot as you bend your other leg. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs.
The wall stretch is easy to do anywhere – all you need is a wall (or curb) to brace your foot against. Stand a few inches far from the wall. Keeping one foot strongly on the ground, put your other foot against the wall so that your heel stays on the ground, and lean forward somewhat. Hold this pose for about 10 to 15 seconds, then switch feet.