Calf Pain While Running

calf pain while running
I have been running for about 4 months. However, I had to stop about 2 weeks ago due to a pain in my calf muscle.

It doesn't hurt until I try to run. I thought that if I stopped running for 7 - 10 days, it would heal. It has now been two weeks and the pain doesn't want to go away.

Any suggestions?

Answer by Dominique:

Hello there,
It seems like you are having quite the problem with your calf when running. It's quite common for new runners to experience this type of pain. The root of the problem can likely be traced back to something quite simple. Let's break it down together, okay?

1. Focus on where the pain originates
2. Causes of Calf Pain While Running
3. How to Treat Calf Pain
4. How to Prevent Calf Pain

Focus on Where the Pain Originates

calf pain while running
Firstly, we need to focus on where the pain originates. Pain can crop up in various points of your calf and identifying the source is instrumental.

Does it radiate towards the side? If that's the case, it might not be your actual calf muscle at all – the pain could be derived from the shins, a common condition known to many as "shin splints".

However, if the pain leans more toward the center of the calf, we're primarily dealing with the large soleus muscle.
At the bottom end of the calf, the pain could signify a slightly more serious issue, known as Achilles Tendinitis. Now, that may sound daunting, but don't worry, all these conditions can be treated.

Causes of Calf Pain While Running

Before we get into treatment, let's first turn our minds to what causes this mysterious pain. Well, there are very likely two main culprits:

Have you been running a bit more than usual? Maybe a few harder workouts? Your body needs time to adapt. This is true for any type of exercise. But, I'd argue it is even more important in running. Your leg muscles and joints are the main players in this game.

Quick sprints, hill-climbing, running more mileage... anything that drastically veers off your regular running routine can pose risks, strain your muscles, and weave the webs of injury.

"You're only as good as your shoes," said every runner ever. The relationship between your foot and your shoe is vital; it's like choosing the right key for a lock. If the fit and support aren't ideal, you're setting the stage for an array of potential injuries, calf pain included.

Overuse not the likely culprit? Then it would be wise to consider whether your shoes could be the reason. Get fitted at a specialised running shoe store. Generally these shops are run by runners, they understand feet much better than your general sports equipment store or big chain.

How to Treat Calf Pain

calf pain while running
Now that we know the possible reasons, let's talk about mending this pain you've been carrying. Conventional wisdom and practically all advice about treating any muscle-related injury start with two things, and then a few others:

Ice and Rest
Icing the painful area can reduce inflammation and speed up recovery, while rest ensures you don't exacerbate the injury. Toning down your workouts to simpler, shorter sessions would be wise until your calf is back to its old self.

Massage Treatment
In case of persistent knots in your muscles, massage can help loosen things up. I like visiting an osteopath or likewise for issues like these. They can help you with the massage, but also understand how bones, joints and muscles function together.

I have had visits to osteopaths in which they are able to help me further, but also, where they are to diagnose the issue properly and refer me on to another specialist.

Doctor's visit
When injuries don't resolve of their own accord, I think it is worth visiting a medical professional. You just want to make sure you get a proper diagnosis, as this will point the path to treatment and recovery.

Sometimes, professional guidance is irreplaceable and can solve puzzles we can't alone.

How to Prevent Calf Pain

calf pain while running
Better to be safe ahead than nursing an injury, right?
Preventing calf pain is quite straightforward once you decipher the causes. A balance between gradually increasing your mileage and having the right pair of shoes for your running adventures forms the base of evading any calf pain issues in the future.

Remember, it's not just about increasing your running endurance – it's also about adapting your body to the newfound changes slowly and healthily.

Also check out the Running Injury Prevention page for your definitive guide on how to stay injury free!

I hope this provided you with a clearer understanding of your calf pain, how to treat it and most importantly, how to keep it at bay.

If the injury persists, go see a trained medical professional. And try to keep fit through other means than running. Cross-training can possibly provide you with safe alternatives while the calf is healing.

Always remember, your health comes first, so take it easy and make sure you're comfortable with your running routine. I wish you loads of fun-filled runs in the future!

Kind regards,

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