Calf Strain coming on (Read 997 times)


    I ran 8 miles on Sunday and 4 miles today. No pain when running, but later that day and the next day I feel a bit of a strain outside of upper left calf. I just started a training program and really dont want to interrupt it. Anything I can do to "nip this in the bud" and avoid a true injury ? Stretch it or not stretch it ? Ice ? Foam roller ? Massage therapy ?  Calf raises ?

    The Runner Life

      Stretch, ice, foam roller, hand massage, etc. will all help.  Also try some compression, if you have an ace bandage or something.  Sometimes that helps as well.  I would steer against calf raises until the problem decreases.

        IIRC, stretching was not recommended for strains.  The advice I got was: roll/massage; small heel lifts in running shoes for a short while; less walking around barefoot in the short term.  After it's on the path to healing, then bring in the stretching, strengthening, and so on.


        I also had very good results with massage therapy (the painful kind that's more specifically therapeutic, not the hot stones and fragrant oils kind).

        "I want you to pray as if everything depends on it, but I want you to prepare yourself as if everything depends on you."

        -- Dick LeBeau


          Thanks - I used the foam roller yesterday and iced it a few times, wearing a compression sleeve on it today and not running today. Will try a run tomorrow and see how it feels.

            I keep getting calf strains, but none of them have ever come on slowly like yours feels like.  They are all like "heart attacks", happening very abruptly.


            See this article.  It describes my problem and how I deal with them.



            I don't use "the stick" even though I have one.  I use a foam roller and ice.  Plus I've been wearing a Zensah calf sleeve during hard workouts.  Ill probably pull it again sometime soon though.  So take this for what its worth.


              Twice in past 3 or 4 years I had the quick calf strain that comes on like a "heart attack" like you describe. Happened mid-run and felt like someone shot me in the back of my calf. Eneded up going to a PT who was certified in "Graston Technique" to cure it.

                Having suffered with calf injuries for nearly 14 years that crippled my running, let me offer this article I found while trying to find ANY solution. This is nearly the best article I found and I could really relate to the author. I've found this massage technique crucial for keeping "happy calves."


                Oh, My aching calves

                My calve injuries must have been God's way of showing me that somewhere along the way, I messed up. These were my most secretive feelings for many years. I shared them with no one, for no one could understand the emotional distress associated with chronic calf injuries.

                After 15 years as a sportsmedicine specialist in which I'd treated hundreds of runners with various running. I finally was introduced to a solution to my calf problems. If tightness, soreness, slow recovery, or muscle pulls is also your albatross in life, you may want to read this.

                The calf is one of the most used muscle groups in the runner. Along with the hamstring, calf problems afflict almost all runners at one time or another. The role the calf plays in the running gait makes it highly vulnerable to tightness, stiffness, tendinitis, and chronic pulls. To the runner who suffers from this syndrome, running can become a not-so-favorite pastime laced long periods of injury and frustration.

                Calf problems are usually due to micro-traumas that occur with every run. A typical muscle that is exercised multiple times a week is injured on the microscopic level with every workout. These micro-injuries require to heal. As the muscle is used and the microtraumas occur, an inherit tightening or contracture takes place.

                This is the body's attempt to protect the muscle to allow the necessary time for recovery. The downside of this is built in protective mechanisms that there is a reduced blood flow to the muscle, this reduced blood flow furthers the contracture or tightening.


                This cycle usually leads to injury or chronic tightness and stiffness that limit a runner with regard to mileage and hard workouts. AS soon as the muscle tightness is mildly improved, most runners feel the need to get back out on the road or track as quickly as possible. This is taking a muscle that is just starting to recover and asking it to perform when it is not capable of doing so and the cycle continues.

                The tightening that occurs with constant running has to be addressed on a daily basis in an effort to resolve this problem. While most sportsmendicine specialist and coaches recommend a detailed stretching program, stretching alone will not solve this condition.


                The primary problem is that the internal pressure of the muscle is so great (due to the tightening/protective mechanism of the body) that new blood, which is vital for reparation and recovery, cannot enter the muscle. External pressure, greater than the protective internal muscular pressure, has to be applied to the calf muscles in an effort to relax the muscle and encourage a copious, nutrient-rich blood flow necessary for proper food and oxygen to the muscle.


                There are three options with regard to employing the necessary treatment to the calves to combat tightness, stiffness, and injuries. The first is to use your thumbs in applying an upward stroke to the calves, starting just above the Achilles up to the back of the knee. The key is to get into calves with enough pressure to help relax the muscle and encourage blood flow into the muscle. The runner should apply 20-30 strokes on both calves.


                The second option is to work with a fellow runner and apply the necessary treatment to each other. This is certainly easier, however, another partner is not always available. The final option is to use a tool that allows runners to treat themselves, such as The Stick®. This provides the necessary treatment, is extremely easy to employ, and can be done in 30-45 seconds.


                In order to succeed with this approach, muscles must be treated multiple times per day. The treatment cannot become time consuming, since none of us have the time for a lengthy treatment. Again, the treatment could be done in as little as 30-45 seconds.


                The most important time for application is just prior to going out for a run, with the second most important being after a run. Ideally, five to six treatments per day will begin to provide the necessary influx of new blood to the damaged, tightened muscle. This will expedite the repair and relaxation process that will allow the calf muscle to undergo the stresses of running without the residual buildup of waste products, toxins, and tightening that is all part of the normal cycle of muscular use and repair.


                It is critical to have the muscle in a totally relaxed state while treating it. When sitting down, life the thigh off the floor with the foot free hanging. Let the toe point downward. This will allow the calf muscle to be relaxed. This position is also possible when laying down. When standing put the foot on a stool or chair and make sure the knee is behind the heel instead of ahead of the toe. This will allow for maximum relaxation when applying pressure.


                Finally, treatment should not only be done when pain, tightness, or injury is present. This treatment should become a habit for all runners, since calf problems are truly in epidemic proportions. The calf undergoes excessive stress and recovery support with this treatment will provide the insurance you need to stay on the road instead of injured list.


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                  According to researches the remedy that an athlete can do is to apply RICE- which stands for rest,ice,compression and elevation.

                  Hobby Jogger Especial!

                    Good stuff, BoilerTom.  I'm a firm believer in trigger points and it helping. As a chronic sufferer of both AT and calf problems, the stick, foam roller, rolling pin and my thumbs have helped immensely in loosening things up.  Here's one of the Sock Doc videos that I think is helpful:




                      Hello fellow runners,


                      I felt it my moral obligation to my fellow runners to post here.  I'll start by saying I've been running for 30 years, have completed races of all distances all the  way up to marathon, which I've done 6 times.  I am also a triathlete and have done all distances there too, including a successful Ironman bid.  The only reason I tell you this is, is so you will know I that I have a good deal of experience pushing my body hard and have dealt with many minor injuries along the way.  The calf strain that I have had is the worst so far.


                      Back in the summer, I was training very hard, lifting, running and once a week doing an intense hill workout where I ran up a sledding hill.   Eventually my calves started getting super tight.  I stretched them every day but it didn't help much.  Being stubborn, I pushed through, eventually during a run, I felt like I had a cramp in my calf.  No pop or blast from the calf, just a cramp like feeling.


                      It's now been nearly 6 months and I'm now just starting to turn the corner and get back to pain-free running.  This is my recovery story:


                      First I took a week off, no good.  Then I took 2 weeks off from running, still no good.  Then I took a month off.  Still nothing.  I estimate I had a Level 2-3 tear.  So I eventually took 3 months off and slowly started doing some powerwalking, and began to incorporate running only downhill which elongates the calf.  So I did that for awhile.


                      Eventually I threw in the towel and went to see a Physical Therapist.  The PT worked me out doing single leg balancing exercises, calf raises, etc.  However it wasn't until I started getting Dry Needling that the muscle began to relax and some of the scar tissue began to break up.  I had one of these sessions every week for 4 weeks and now I'm feeling much better.


                      During this time, I also incorporated The Stick, rolling my calves every day, and getting rolled and massaged by my wife.


                      Another PT said simple "Stretch the sh#t out of it."  So I did.  Calf stretch and also lots of hamstring stretches, they are connected.  Keep in mind, I agree with other posters that say don't stretch the calf until it has done some healing.  Usually 1-2 months depending on the severity.


                      Lastly, the way I've worked back into my running seems to be working.  Namely:  I do static stretching before my run (which I used to never do, only active stretching)  Now I do both.  So I will go out and run 8 minutes, stretch again for 1-2 min followed by 8 more minutes of running, etc.  I follow this pattern and walk for a few minutes if necessary in between.  I'm now back up to running a total of 35 minutes at a time without pain or strain.  A word of caution:  If you feel any strain in your calf while running.  STOP.  You cannot "run through" this injury. 


                      Good luck in your recovery, I hope this helps.