Calf Pain: How important are the walking periods... - Couch to 5K

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Calf Pain


How important are the walking periods in between runs? I can compete the runs relatively easily in terms of fitness, but suffer from stabbing pain in my calfs from really tight calf muscles. The only way I can run again is if I stop and stretch for a minute. Is this likely to effect the time it takes to build up endurance?

I may only be worried because I have the 20 minute run to do this evening.

3 Replies

Well, there aren't any walk breaks in the 20 minute run so you should be okay there.

Tight calf muscles are best alleviated by daily use of a foam roller it is actually the fascia around your musces that cause the tightness, and proper hydration. Be sure to be drinking adequate water the day before each run (3litres +).

But in answer to your specific question, no, a bit of stretching mid run is not going to delay your progress much. Certainly not as much as not running because of the pains. And also, even if t does take a week or two longer to complete, who's counting? It's the completing it that counts and being able to running sustainably, not who finishes first.


Sounds like your calves are locking up in spasm. This is very common.

Magnesium supplements may help. Your body needs magnesium to correctly signal the muscles. When you run low on magnesium, your muscles don't switch on and off correctly, so you can get painful spasms.

Longer term, stretching and strengthening exercises every day will help. Stretching just before or after a run will do absolutely nothing for the flexibility of the muscles long term. It needs to be every day. It's not as much as a chore as it sounds though. Walking with a long stride stretches the calf muscles, or just standing around, if you put your forefoot on a curb or step or the yellow pages and then lower the heel to the floor. Pushing the knee forward increases the stretch. For strengthening, running will do it but, there's a twist. There are actually two main types of muscle fibres. Fast twitch are not very strong, but can contract very quickly. We use these for any fast action where brute strength is not required. They are also quite easy to tear. Then there's slow twitch, which can't contract very quickly,but are very strong. Running trains the former more than the latter. The latter though provide the string scaffold to help stop everything tearing,and also promote good circulation in the area thus benefiting all cell types. Just as the different fibres have respond for different speeds, so different speed exercises train them. Running trains the fast fibres. Something like calf raises trains the slow ones. Ergo, calf raises plus stretches every day will also help your running.

Thanks guys.

I go to the gym 4 or 5 times a week and do a lot of foam roller work, plus stretching before after and in the steam room. The biggest problem is I'm just too heavy. I also drink more water than this as apart from the odd beverage on a Saturday night I only drink water and always carry a water bottle with me.

At the start of this I didn't think I'd get passed the second week, and so far managed to sneak some stretching in during the walking parts. It could well just be the apprehension that it seems a lot of people get before the 20 minute run.

I shall just see how it goes, and adjust if required.

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