Originally posted as QOTD, but thought I would start a new topic on the debate....
Does anybody have any input on the calf compression sleeves or maybe other tricks to deal with calf tightness? I have been fighting a really tight calf muscle lately and am looking for ideas. The calf compression sleeves get pretty good reviews so maybe worth a try? I try to use a foam roller(although maybe not often enough...) and stretch, but once I start getting over ~40 miles a week nothing seems to get rid of it. The last few runs I have noticed a definite weakness in my right calf so I would like to address it before I cause other problems. Any thoughts would be appreciated!
Does the tightness seem to flare up at certain times?
I tend to have calf problems any time there's long sustained uphills. I use calf sleeves (Zensah), but I've also incorporated some strength training, specifically squats and calf raises, that seems to help quite a bit.
I also use my calf sleeves during runs, and I have another pair I throw on after the run (yes two pairs, so one stays clean and I can wear them around the house without my wife giving me dirty looks for stinking up the place)
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It seems like it flares up after a long hard uphill run and lingers for weeks. But the pain associated with the tightness is most noticeable on the downhills. A nice long steep uphill doesn't hurt as much and actually seems to help stretch things out, but then the pain/tightness is back the next day.
The last few runs I have noticed a definite weakness in my right calf...
Weakness as you run but it gets better afterwards? Have you ruled out chronic exertional compartment syndrome?
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Nope, haven't really ruled anything out at this point. Considered compartment syndrome as a possibility, but think(hope?) that is something more simple. I notice the weakness in that I have developed a noticeable(to me anyway) limp when I run due to the tightness/discomfort in my calf. Each foot fall on my right side kind of "gives" a bit and the push off is not as strong feeling. It usually gets a bit better as I continue running, which makes me think it is just a tightness that is not allowing my muscle to work smoothly. But not sure....
If you can come off the $30 bucks I would recommend the compression sleeves. I used them last year when I had some calf issues. Whether or not they work I can't really say, but at least you feel like you are doing something about it. I've also used them for recovery and slept in them. At worst they didn't hurt anything...at best maybe they helped. I also use the compression sleeves for runs when it is a little too cold for shorts but not cold enough to warrant tights. They also come in handy if for applying an ice pack (one between ice and skin, the other holding the pack in place). All in all, I use them pretty frequently even if its not for their designed purpose.
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I have no idea about compression socks but wanted to give my 2 cents: pain or tightnes in the claves could be a sign of other things going on. All of the tendons in the foot (including the big one - the achilles) come up by or through your calf muscle and/or attach to the muscles. I have never had too many issues with my calves until my issues with my feet have come up the last year. While I do a considerable amount of exercises (given by my PT) to strengthen those tendons (not so much the AT but the other ones), I have noticed more stuff going on in my calves. One run I felt like I strained the right calf muscle. Other random times, they are tight. And yet other times, random off feelings of weakness or soreness. Foam rollers are good. I imagine that compression socks are good. I wouldn't expect it to be a negative thing.
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I use them (runs of 10+ miles) and can tell a difference in recovery the following day when I don't use them.
Plus, if you run a really muddy course, take them off and go to a grocery store afterward you get the best looks when your feet are clean, your ankles are dirty, your calves are clean, your knees are dirty and your shorts are covered in mud
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