Calves still in agony when I run after 5 wee... - Bridge to 10K

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Calves still in agony when I run after 5 week break

slothycoffee profile image

I took a 5 week break from running to allow my calves to recover from whatever injury I sustained from wearing unsuitable footwear for *one* 5km run in March. Throughout my break, I went on daily walks and used a massage ball on my calves when they felt particularly tight. I also did a couple of strength training workouts for my legs (these left me in agony where I couldn't walk for days afterwards, hence only a couple of these were done).

Last week, I started running again in a new pair of running trainers. Just a gentle 2.5km run. Well, it wasn't even a run, it was a jog. I had a day's rest between each jog yet each time, my calves felt sorer and sorer until today, where I can barely walk and am hobbling around. The pain is BACK despite my 5 week break. I am doing 15 minute stretch routines, using a massage ball, taking rest days but the pain just won't GO. It gets worse each run/jog I do. I can't even run through the pain at this point as I can barely walk. I'm only 20 years old, why are my legs behaving as if i'm 90? This is my third pair of trainers, surely all three of them aren't the culprit to this?

Is this pain normal? I don't know if it's because I took a long break and now the muscles aren't used to running so they have to re-build. Or are my calf muscles completely ruined and I have to give up running for good?

P.s. any exercise that involves jumping induces pain, so I can't even do star jumps, skipping rope or high knees as an alternative.

14 Replies
Grannyhugs profile image

This is definitely not normal. So sorry you are suffering such pain. I think you really need advice from a sports physio. Many are providing video referrals at the moment. Good luck 🤗

Thank you for your reply! I have looked at a local private sports physiotherapy place and they are offering free consultations over the telephone/video calls right now. I'm not sure if I should contact a private sports physio or my NHS GP first (I worry about wasting NHS time with everything going on at the moment).

Grannyhugs profile image
GrannyhugsAmbassador in reply to slothycoffee

Personally I always go for the specialist physio. A gap is just that, general and all my gap ever did in the past was suggest I contact a physio. I’ve also always found the private sports physios better than nhs as they are keener to get you active again. However, if you think it may be anything other than a muscle strain from exercise - thrombosis, weird side effect of Covid etc then don’t hesitate to contact your go. They are totally open for consultations and will give you a phone or video call appointment probably. Whatever you choose to do, and there’s no problem contacting both your gap and physio at the same time, just make these appointments so you can speak to someone and get reassurance and help. 🤗

UnfitNoMore profile image

After 5 weeks, the same pain returning would mean a medical opinion is mandatory if I was in your position.

What is in your 15 minute stretch routine? When do you do it? Do you warm up before it? Static stretches on warm muscles (like post run) are good... on cold muscles they can do harm. Likewise, static stretches before a run can cause some stability to be lost in the joints, which can cause big problems.

My stretch routine at the moment is from an app on my phone. It has tailored stretch routines, e.g. post-run cool down sequence, pre-run warm up sequence. The pre-run sequence involves jumping jacks which hurt my legs, so then my legs are in pain before I even run. So to limit pain on my run I usually do a few minutes of brisk walking and high knees instead.

UnfitNoMore profile image
UnfitNoMoreGraduate10 in reply to slothycoffee

Sounds sensible... hope things improve

Madge50 profile image

Hi slothy,

Oh that sounds really horrible, and agree with the others, some proper advice is needed. Sports physio/full gait analysis maybe?

From reading your posts, I do wonder if you have been doing too much though, when I had a sore area on my calf a sports physio advised me that stretching and massaging/rolling should be done very much in moderation - I had been trying to sort it myself by rolling and stretching every day - which actually prolonged it.....

And shoes, as you’ve run before, and for some time, you’d know which shoes you find most comfortable? Although a full gait analysis could assist there if you’ve not had one before.

Plus, just a little thought, are you going too fast?

Hope you can get it sorted, take care of yourself


slothycoffee profile image
slothycoffee in reply to Madge50

Thank you for your reply! I'm definitely considering getting a gait-analysis done at my local running shop when they open. I didn't use to think I needed it because I'm not a long-distance runner. I will get advice from a GP or physio first to make sure it is okay for me to be running still.

I'm definitely not running too fast haha, my average pace is around 8.5 km p/h. I'm not one of those people who can do sub 30 minute 5km runs for sure!

Dexy5 profile image

Whatever you do, don’t run until you’ve sought medical attention slothycoffee. You should never run through pain, and I wouldn’t use your spikey ball either. It is possible that you may have torn a muscle and a rehab programme will be needed before running again.

Unfortunately, it’s practically impossible to see a sports physio unless you have already been a patient. But you can see a dr and they might be able to get you to see an nhs physio.

Good luck.

slothycoffee profile image
slothycoffee in reply to Dexy5

Thank you for your reply! There is a lot of contradictory advice regarding massage rollers/balls. I usually only use them when my calves feel really tight. Yesterday I found out that you should only massage the actual calf muscles, not the tendons lower down. I won't be running again until I know it is okay for me to do so. In the mean time, I have ice packs and ibuprofen gel!

Dexy5 profile image
Dexy5Graduate10 in reply to slothycoffee

Yes when I mentioned that I never use a roller to my physio he said “there are two schools of thought on the benefits of a roller”. I got the distinct impression that he was anti .

Just for comparison, when I injured my foot and hip I stopped running for weeks, and saw a physio. Did the exercises I was given for a few more weeks. I'm running again now, but I'm still only running in run/walk intervals. It sounds like those strengthening classes were wrong for you if they caused so much pain. Also 2k is too far to run when you aren't fully healed. You need expert advice, from someone who can advise you how long to stop running for, what exercises are safe, and how to return to running safely. Meanwhile, if any activity causes that much pain, stop! This forum is littered with posts from people of any age who tried to run through the pain. You need lots of patience to recover fully, but you are young, you should be fine, just get advice. My GP referred me for physio, so maybe try your GP first, mine is doing phone consultations. If you really can't see anyone, then when you do try again, start from c25k week 1 run 1. Don't give up, but be prepared for this to take time.

Thank you for your reply! I'm sorry to hear you went through an injury as well. The strengthening classes were definitely too much- they involved exercises like squat jumps, jumping lunges, etc. Even my boyfriend was in agony the next day and we could not walk! The irony was the instructors said to do the workout once or twice a week ON TOP of your usual runs.

I think stopping running is more difficult for me now than it usually would be because there aren't alternative cardio workouts I can do instead like cycling, swimming, rowing or cross-training whilst the gyms are closed. My GP 'prescribed' me exercise a couple of years ago to help me deal with my mental health. Cardio is great because it burns off all my excess adrenaline.

When I go out for a walk, I feel lazy seeing all the runners go past. So I guess I have a bad relationship with exercise. I'm not going to run or jog anymore until I have spoken to a GP or physio.

I'm going to do my usual thing now of recommending Pilates. It strengthens the core muscles, which really helps to support your body when you run. You can also work on leg muscles without the high impact of some of these strength for runners exercises, which seem to assume a level of fitness. I know what you mean about watching the runners go by though 😕

Have you looked at the healthunlocked strength and flex site, there's a pinned post here that links to it somewhere, with much more appropriate exercises for beginner runners. You can strengthen those muscles without all that leaping about 😉

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