Calf pain when walking or running is common because of the large role the calf muscles play in propelling the legs forward during these activities. Since walking is an essential daily activity, this can often make it feel impossible to take a break because we feel as if we have to push through. Continuing to push through will only make things worse, however, and can cause unnecessary amounts of harm to your body. Read on for tips on how you can both treat and prevent further damage by getting started with calf pain treatment today!
Assessing Your Calf Injury
Before you start a treatment plan for your soleus muscle pain, make sure that you rule out any other issues. It's important to gain an understanding of what's going on with your calf injury to make sure you've got the right protocol in place.
Where is the Pain?
Many different places inside the calf muscles can feel stiff or sore when sustaining an injury. The calf muscles run from the back of the knee going all the way to your ankle where it attaches to your Achilles tendon with a strong band of fascia called the plantar fascia. The large bulk of muscle you feel in the back of your lower leg is your gastrocnemius and its sister muscle, the soleus. Anywhere in this entire area including superficial or deep into the soleus muscle, or even along your Achilles tendon itself could feel tender with use, especially after exercise days.
How Severe is the Pain?
The amount of pain and soreness you're experiencing can give you a clue as to what's going on. While calf pain can range from minimal to severe, if symptoms are severe, seek medical advice immediately no matter the time of day. It could be more serious issues like a blood clot, infection, fracture, or major muscle tear. Additionally, while some night calf pain is normal in most cases if it's completely affecting your sleep quality talk to your doctor about ways to help prevent them.
It is important to take preventative measures to address lower leg pain like aching calves. Depending on the severity of your calf injury, you can use several home remedies or hot/cold tools that are simple and effective. Some people like to apply a Cold therapy pack right away, while others prefer a herbal heating pad. It's important to switch it up!
Practice Proper Running Technique
Common running mistakes include having a poor hip extension, overpronation of your foot, and excessive valgus at the knee. These things put the calf muscles at a biomechanical disadvantage that strains them with use. Quick tips include addressing hip extension with regular stretching and glute strengthening, foot overpronation with exercise and supportive shoes, and knee alignment with jump training and hip abductor strengthening.
Warm-Up with Stretches
A proper warm-up is usually important before exercise and running, especially if you tend to feel stiff or tight. Some good stretches that address general lower-body flexibility in combination with specific calf stretches will help you when it comes to feeling ready for a workout. To add to that, there's some low-intensity movement that promotes blood flow and tissue extensibility can also do the trick! As well as consider using a foam roller on any tight or trouble areas both before and after movement if you think it could be the missing link in your exercise recovery routine!
Running barefoot may seem daunting, but it can also bring a range of benefits! Running barefoot has been shown to reduce stress in the joints and calf muscles while strengthening your feet and increasing your tolerance for running. It may take some getting used to, but your feet will adjust quickly and you’ll notice that it makes running more comfortable than ever. Talk to your physical therapist about whether or not you should start running barefoot, as it is up to you and that professional to come up with a plan before you begin trying this out for yourself!
Preventing Calf Pain on Your Run or Walk
It’s always better to be safe than sorry! Preventing leg problems before they happen is the best way to guarantee that you’re not going to have anything holding you back when it comes time for more serious training.
One of the most overlooked aspects of lower body strength and endurance is coordination. A well-rounded approach to building calf strength requires coordinating all of the surrounding muscles in the feet, ankles, thighs, and hips - something few people think about when it comes time to start exercising. By working toward stability and healthy movement patterns with a balanced stretching routine, you will reduce injury risk throughout the legs and enhance your ability to build muscle for weight lifting exercises like calf raises.
Tissue health is a common goal among orthopedic specialists. Many lifestyle factors promote good overall tissue health including those which affect bone and joint structures – making healthy choices helps the body feel its best and prevent potential injury. Common examples of these include:
- Having a stress management routine
- Eating a nutrient-dense diet
- Getting enough high-quality sleep
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
Take Time Off From Running
Oftentimes, taking a short rest when symptoms are mild can get you back on track quickly. If you start to feel as though they might become more severe in the long term, it's important to take action sooner rather than later so that you needn't worry about losing too much training time behind symptoms.
Keep in mind though - some things require more care and attention from a physical therapist than others: for example, if the limited range of motion is your only concern, then there isn't any harm in stretching for a bit; but if muscle weakness has begun along with balance complications, then it's important to get help from someone who knows how to handle these issues more effectively than you could on your own.
Keeping Your Calves Strong
Calf muscles need to be strong and healthy to tolerate normal activities like standing, walking, and running. They are particularly used when you bend your knees or walk stairs. If you aren't sure where to start or are noticing symptoms getting worse with your daily activities, always consult with a medical specialist for advice on what exercises can help strengthen your calf muscles so they can cope better with everyday pursuits. You should seek medical attention if the pain is persistent and has led to redness and swelling in the leg: this may be a sign that a strain has occurred, which could take much longer than usual to recover from as well as being more painful.