Calf pain is a serious issue among avid runners. Whether you simply enjoy running as a way of staying active and in shape, or you run competitively, the last thing you need is cramps and discomfort damaging your performance. Your calf is constructed of two muscles that can be found in the lower leg. Accidentally tearing or straining those muscles can deliver a pain that ranges from a mild ache, to a severe and debilitating pain.
Generally, calf pain occurs as a result of overuse, but it can also happen when you increase the distance, intensity, or duration of your workouts too suddenly, and without the right preparation. The following steps should help you to reduce calf pain when running, so that you can achieve the ultimate performance.
Step 1: Stretch Your Calf Muscles
If you have concerns about the possibility of chronic pain in your calf muscles, then one of the best ways to reduce calf pain when running is to prevent discomfort by stretching the muscles before you start any activity. In stretches before your workout, try to ensure that you focus on dynamic, rather than static stretches. Dynamic stretches allow for you to move the joint through a full range of motion, rather than attempting to simply stretch out a static joint.
To complete a dynamic calf stretch, start by sitting on the ground with your legs straight ahead of you, then slowly flex your ankle, bringing your toes towards the floor, then back up towards the ceiling.
Step 2: Compress and Hydrate
Next, before you start your run, strap a calf compression sleeve around the muscle that generally gives you the most trouble. This will help to improve your stability, boost circulation, and quicken recovery times following any injuries that might occur. Just be sure that you purchase a sleeve in the right size for your leg, as one that is too tight could damage your circulation, while one that is too loose will have no effect.
At the same time, stock up on water so you can remain hydrated during longer workouts. Dehydration is a common cause of cramps and aches - so continuously drinking can be a good way to reduce calf pain when running. Remember to rehydrate after you run as well, using sports drinks or water.
Step 3: Adjust your Stride and Show Caution
Finally, to reduce calf pain when running, make sure that you pay close attention to your form during a run, and adjust your stride if you feel that it might be contributing to your discomfort. Remember that your toes and heel should hit the pavement with the exact same amount of force, and placing too much pressure on the front of your foot can quickly lead to calf strains.
If you begin to notice severe pain in your calf at any point during your run, slow down and stop your workout. Remember that while it's good to push yourself during exercise, you should always pay attention to your body, and avoid injury wherever possible.