Couch to 5K
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Calf muscle is acting up

For the past year now, on and off my calf muscles on both legs (more so my right) have been acting up. It sometimes spazzs and then all a sudden I'm about to fall onto the ground because I'm in so much pain. I do excersize daily, stretch before & after, as well as stay hydrated. I do play softball, basketball and soccer. I'm just concerned I've done something to them. Any tips? I debate on seeing someone, but whenever I do nothing is ever the matter. Thank you :)

3 Replies

* exercise oops


Try getting a specialist sports massage. I'm in training for a half marathon in Sept and while my training runs were feeling good, afterwards my calf muscles were just solid knots and I could barely walk. Then I met someone reining in sports massage who needed volunteers - it was a revelation! She pummelled and kneaded my legs (and yes, at times it was a bit painful, but nothing outrageous!) but at the end of it, I swear my calf muscles and hat rings were several inches longer. I floated out! I've been back again since and my legs feel great - no more stiffness, no more hobbling the day after a long run. Highly recommended!


I am a qualified physiotherapist and a trainee couch to 5k runner so have a bit of experience of this although the fact it has been going on for so long now does suggest you should maybe go and see a physio for some specialist advice as it may be that you have a specific muscle imbalance. You could also go to a running shop and get your gait looked at to see how you are running as it could be the placement of your foot that is the problem and some insoles in your shoes may help. It may even be your hip or knee but you won't know until you get someone to look at it. I will tell you now that you do have a problem and no-one can tell you you haven't as it comes and goes and a specialist sports therapist will understand that and will analyse you specifically and will give you very specific advice as to what you can work on. I can only give you generic advice i am afraid as i can't get my hands on you :-).

For yourself I would recommend at some point in the day when you can take 10 minutes out to do it sit down in a high lying position - so that is with your feet out in front of you and your legs are straight. The muscle fibres in your calf run downwards from your knee to your heal and what I would suggest is a friction massage (you may have to get someone else to do this for you if you have tight hamstrings as bending forward to do the massage can put your hamstrings on quite a stretch) . A friction massage is basically cupping your hand over the muscle belly in your calf and quite deeply rolling the fibres of the muscle across the grain of the muscle (sorry does that make sense??? - because your calf muscle fibres go downwards down your leg - you will use you thumb and fingers to roll the muscle sideways so across your leg) you can do this from the outside and inside of your leg. It is quite a niggly massage - if you run your fingers up and down your leg the leg is quite smooth but if you press a bit deeper and run your fingers across the calf you will feel it is quite bobbely and quite sore - this is normal It may be a bit uncomfortable at first but when you have done it for about 5 mins then get a bag of peas wrapped in a towel and rest that on the area for another 5 minutes. Finish it with a calf stretch. Start doing it with your right leg for a few days and if it helps try your left.

Try that and carry on with the stretches but I would still recommend you get checked out as well. Have a look at the soles of your running shoes - is there wear and tear on anywhere specific - that will give you an idea as to what could be the problem - it certainly would for a professional

Hope that helps



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