Running is one of the most popular athletic activities around today. Part of the reason for this is that running is easy to do, it's free, and it can be accomplished by anyone, at almost any fitness level. Unfortunately, however, because running places a lot of impact on the bones in the lower leg, as well as the knee joint and hips, this exercise can cause pain and discomfort - particularly in people who aren't used to regular exercise.
Athletic calf pain or a strain can quickly ruin your running experience by forcing you to take time off your feet. However, there are several ways that you can help your body to recover faster after an injury occurs. Try the following steps to prevent future injury, encourage quicker healing, and reduce discomfort.
Step 1: Know how to Recognize Athletic Calf Pain
If you are suffering from athletic calf pain, or a running strain, then there are a number of ways that the problem might present itself. According to experts, there are three grades of calf strain that you can suffer from at any given time. While a grade one calf strain may be impossible to notice until you start suffering from tightness or cramping after your run, a grade two strain results in far more intense, immediate pain. Grade two calf strains lead to pain the moment you start contracting and stretching your calf muscle, and you may find that your lower leg is sore to the touch.
Alternatively, a grade three calf strain is a very serious athletic calf pain injury. If you are suffering from a grade-three strain, then you will experience burning or stabbing pains in your legs, combined with an inability to walk without severe discomfort.
Step 2: Initial Treatment
Initial treatment for athletic calf pain should consist of using an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen - so long as this has been approved by your doctor or healthcare provider. You can also use an ice-pack to relieve some of the swelling. For a mild calf strain, most experts recommend rest for a period of at least five days. This means that you should avoid running, otherwise you might end up making your injury much worse. It doesn't take a great deal of effort for a grade one calf strain to turn into a grade two, or grade three injury.
During this time, calf compression sleeves, sports orthotics, and heel cushions can be used to help speed up the process of recovery, prevent future problems, and provide support.
Step 3: Recovery
After you have completed the resting and initial treatment stage of recovery, you will be able to begin active rehabilitation. In some cases, this will mean trying some gentle resistance exercises and stretching to help work your muscle and test your range of motion. Remember that resistance exercises can be important in athletic calf pain treatment, as they help to align the scar tissue which might form during healing. What's more, stability and core strength exercises can help to improve muscle function across the trunk, reducing the amount of stress you place on your calf during future runs.