How To Prevent Running Calf Pain
If you’re an avid runner or have just started out, you may have experienced the brutality that are tight calf muscles. Calf pain is common amongst runners and even walkers, but it’s nothing to be concerned about and there are exercises to help prevent it returning in the future. If you’ve noticed that your calf muscles (or gastrocnemius muscles) spasm or pull when running up hills, then it could be time to try some of these exercises, to ensure you’re in shape to perform at your very best. Below, we’ve outlined 5 exercises to prevent running calf pain.
1. Farmer’s Walk
No, we don’t expect you to go and stretch off in a field, surrounded by sheep, but we do expect you to try and strengthen your calf muscles so that injuries are unlikely to happen in the future and calf pain becomes a thing of the past. Using your chosen dumbbells, hold them at your sides, then walk on your tip toes for at least a minute at a time. This works your calf muscles, making them stronger. The heavier the weight you choose, the more this exercise will work for you, so start off small and build yourself up.
2. Single Leg Squat
We know, this sounds terrifying, but it’s a fantastic way to prevent calf pain after running and provide you with the relief you need. Start on one leg and try and keep your balance. Perform a regular squat, but just on that one leg, attempting to keep your knee aligned with your toes. As with regular squats, you should never see your knee go in front of your foot. This is more difficult for a single leg squat, but mastering it will help with calf pain in the future.
3. Downward Facing Dog
Whether you’re a yoga fan or not, there’s a lot that can be learned from some of the techniques, particularly for stretching and cooling down after any kind of exercise. However, if you’ve just completed your run and are hoping to ease your calf pain, attempting a downward facing dog, helps to stretch the muscles, giving you that relief you need, as well as helping to prevent injury in the future. Simply start on all fours, like a dog, then place your hands on the floor and push up with your bottom. Your legs and spine should be straight so that you’re really feeling that pull in your calf muscles.
4. Calf Raises Or Heel Lifts
These are easy exercises that not only stretch your muscles, alleviating pain and discomfort but also strengthen them too, so you can become a better runner. You can either use a step or an exercise box and stand on the edge so that your heels are hanging over. Hold on to something in front of you, pushing yourself up from your toes, so that your heels go up and down, in a concentric movement. Do this slowly, so that you can really feel the pull in your calf muscles. Makes sure you keep your back straight and try and do reps.
5. Straight Leg Calf Stretch
This is probably the most common exercise for runners and one that you may already be putting into practice. However, utilizing the exercises above as well can ensure you’re getting the most out of your warm up and cool down – plus it keeps your body guessing. With a straight leg calf stretch, your aim is to reduce muscle pain, so they need to execute properly. Find a wall and place your arms out in front of you, so that you’re hands are flat against it. Extend your left leg back, keeping your right left bent in front of you, and vice versa. You should be able to feel the pull in your straight leg. Once you can, ensure that you hold the stretch for around 30 seconds, to really get the benefit of that stretch. This is probably the easiest exercise from our list and we’d advise trying this every day, even if you haven’t exercised. It will keep your calf muscles limber, as well as preparing you for your next run.
- Improving Performance And Preventing Calf Pain While Running – Bauerfeind
- How to Treat Tight Calf Muscles in Runners – Very Well Fit
- How To Treat Calf Pain After Running – Kinetic Revolution
- How to Take Care of Your Calves – Runner’s World