Do you experience really painful, tight calves while running? You might have even considered quitting running because of the discomfort.
Calf muscles are also known as gastrocnemius muscles. These muscles play a crucial by working as the gas and pedal during runs. Calf muscles gas you up during runs on a steep plane.
They are also the ones that will slow you down during descents. In short, calf muscles make sure you don’t fall during runs.
Therefore healthy calves are essential when running. Healthier calves mean more power, faster and better running.
On the other hand, weak calves will lead to other runner’s maladies. Such illnesses include shin splints, calf strains, hip problems, and Achilles tendonitis. You see how essential calf muscles are!
Since they play an essential role in running, you have to take care of your calves. Some various tricks and tips will help in the maintenance of your calves.
This article will discuss why you have tight muscles while running and possible remedies.
WHY DO CALVES GET TIGHT WHEN YOU RUN?
One of the most common runners complaints made to physiotherapists is tight calves when running. Many runners experience this problem at some point.
Research conducted on runners shows that they suffer from tight calves when running severally in their lifetimes. Crazy!
Having tight calves is an apparent problem that regular runners experience. It’s also possible to have tight calves as a first-time runner.
The problem cuts across all types of runners. Whether you are a seasoned or first-time runner, you might suffer from tight calves. There are various reasons why you’d have tight calves.
MAIN CAUSES OF TIGHT CALVES
Running involves a lot of energy use, and it is a high-impact activity. By running, you keep placing stress on your calf muscles.
The intensity of calf tightness varies from one person to the other.
Some will have tight calves in the morning, while others will have tight calves while running. Others will start complaining after hitting their first stride.
Persons who have experienced this problem for too long will most probably have biomechanical problems. If you have a biochemical problem, it means that your foot strikes the ground unevenly.
Thus, your foot will be placing excess stress on your calf muscles. It is the leading cause of tight calves while running.
Another reason you will have tight calves is over-pronation. In this case, a person’s heel rolls inwards as they take a step.
Wearing a poor shoe fit or an unsupported foot arch will cause over-pronation. To avoid over-pronation, wear well-fitting shoes, especially when running.
Did you know that dehydration will make your legs get tight when running? Well, dehydration exacerbates calf muscle tightness.
During runs, you lose a lot of salt through sweating. Loss of salt triggers muscle cramps in your legs.
In turn, these muscle cramps will trigger calf muscle tightness. Make sure you properly hydrate before and during a run to prevent this.
SIGNS THAT YOU HAVE CALF MUSCLE TIGHTNESS
You may be suffering from calf tightness without your awareness. A simple way to tell if your calves are tight is if you’re feeling a sharp pain when running. However, you might confuse calf tightness with other injuries like the IT Band Syndrome.
More specific calf tightness signs are swelling, mild ache in the calves, redness or bruising, and moderate or mild pain when walking.
If you are experiencing any of these signs, then it’s a sure bet that you have calf tightness.
SHOULD YOU RUN WITH TIGHT CALVES?
If you run with calf pain, you will be doing more damage. Once you experience tight calves accompanied by swelling, you have to stop running immediately.
Don’t resume running until the swelling goes away. It might take between 4-6 weeks for the swelling to go away. If the problem is mild, you might be back to your routine in a week.
If there is no swelling and you can handle some pressure on the pain, you can still run. However, if you can’t take the pain from the tightness, don’t run.
Muscle soreness and calf tightness are the number one reason why many people stop running.
Note that you can always go back to running once the problem resolves. Calf tightness might resolve on its own or after an intervention.
STRENGTHENING YOUR CALVES
No one wants to suffer from pain at any point, especially when running. The only way to avoid tight calves while running is by strengthening your calf muscles.
Strengthening your calves will help you overcome recurring muscle tightness.
Most people who suffer from calf tightness have weak calves. There are many ways of strengthening your calf muscles.
The best way to do so is by doing calf stretches. There are many forms of calf stretches, and you can try the one that suits you.
Start with gentle stretches before running. Try anything that stretches your calves a little. Some food examples are lunges, wall presses, and mini squats.
It would be best if you only concentrated on exercises that stretch the calves in a controlled manner.
STATIC MUSCLE STRETCHES
Once you finish running, you can do static muscle stretches, as explained here. Static stretches will help release the tightness after running. Beware, it is slightly painful.
TOE AND HEEL RAISE
You can relieve calf tightness by only doing toe and heel raises. Doing this will help ease up your calves during the runs. You can also do yoga since it’s beneficial to many runners.
If you have tried all these techniques and still have tight calves while running, there is a bigger problem.
To correct this, you have to analyze your running technique and how you move your feet during runs.
TIPS ON PREVENTING CALF TIGHTNESS
Even if you haven’t experienced tight calves while running, you have to prevent the occurrence of such a problem. Several preventative tips will help you, such as:
Avoid running cold. Never wake up and start running there and then. It’s always advisable that you stretch a little before your run.
Stay hydrated during the run. If you are running for long or in a hot region, rehydrate your body regularly.
Don’t overdo hill runs. Instead of running through the entire hill or raised area, you can walk in between the run. It would be best if you also did this when navigating a steep slope.
It will help hyperextend your calves, thus preventing tightness.
Wear the right shoes. Not all shoes are meant for running. Invest in a pair of good sports shoes. Your running shoes should be well-fitting.
Stretching before runs.
Do simple stretches that involve your calves. Even yoga will prove beneficial to you.
Calf tightness is often caused by overworking your legs or having weak calves. Once you make the necessary corrections, you can go back to running with zero pain. A few changes in your training and workout routine are enough to resolve the issue.
So if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above in this article, you should look for a solution. Also, if you don’t have these symptoms, try and prevent calf tightness. This article has clear preventative measures and possible solutions to calf tightness.[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]