How can I help my calf muscle to recover quickly and get back on track?

I've been running for about 12 weeks and today for the first time I had to stop half way through my run due to a very painful "tight" calf muscle. I'm not sure what I've done but I can hardly walk let alone run. What have I done and what can I do to get it to recover quickly? Total rest? Stretching? A support sock/band? I really want to keep running and not miss too many days running. Help?!

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  • not sure what can help immediately as havent personally come across this myself, but have suffered with tight calves after a run so now stretch. which is something I never even considered until a few weeks after finishing the plan. & something that always happens after a run :)

    for the calf muscle you could try standing on a step, facing forward & with just the front part of your foot on the step, then lower your heels until you feel your calves stretching. dont bounce though. just hold for a count of 5 then slowly rise to tiptoes. then repeat a couple of times. also those stretches that you do when you lunge one leg forward & then lean back holding onto the bent knee (hope you know what I mean) will help stretch out the calf muscle.

    when I had shin/knee pain I wore a support stretchy bandage, so perhaps one of these may help with your calf, but I think Id be inclined to wear it from your ankle to knee.

    dont be worried about missing a days running in favour of another rest day. running through pain usually makes things worse & means longer time out so an extra day may be beneficial.

    hope you feel better soon. shelley x

  • What I did:

    Ice for 10 min a time for 2-3 days. I put my leg up on a footstool with my calf resting on a bag of peas with a teatowel between my calf and the peas.

    Take an anti inflamatory like ibuprofen.

    Don't run until your calf stops hurting as a minimum. Be gentle when you stretch. Keep it moving without it being load bearing .. sit down and ,keeping your knee still, draw circles in the air with your big toe.

    The way it was explained to me was that the stabby pain I got on my run was due to a small muscle tear and that the duller nagging pain that followed was due to irritation/inflamation at the injury site.

    Rest gives the tear a chance to heal well. Non loadbearing wiggling/stretching during the healing plus the antiinflamatory meds stop adhesions ie inflamed muscle & surrounding tissue sticking together where they would normally slide smoothly over each other.

    When I started back running I found that my calf started to tighten alarmingly after about 5 min but would loosen if I dropped down to a walk for a minute or two. It didn't object to repeated run/walk intervals but did initially when I tried to lengthen the run interval. My solution was to run for a total of 30 min but in 5 min chunks with 3 min walk intervals. Kept the fitness up whilst letting my calf realy heal properly.

  • Thanks to you both. Will try your suggestions.

  • I sympathize entirely. Straight after completing C25K I was stopped in my tracks by calf pain. That was 9 days ago (and counting!!) and I'm still not back to running. I've had advice both on this site and by my doctor to stop running until the pain has gone and for between 1-5 weeks afterwards, depending on who you ask! I've been icing and using ibuprofen in the early days, and wear a support sock at work when I'm on my feet most of the time.

    My advice is to be really cautious, because rushing back into things could put us out of running for some time. Keep very gently stretching and ankle circling exercises going, but not straight away. Best of luck and if in doubt - wait!

  • From my point of view and having learned the hard way I would recommend you don't run until all the pain has gone, I really hurt my knees and kept trying to run too soon, before they were fully recovered and ended up having total rest for 8 weeks in the end...

    I have also now discovered a brilliant suppliment called "Glutamine" that was recommended to me by a nutritionist, it has massively speeded up my muscle recovery and I am much less achy the day after I run now. I would recommend you get some and try it out for yourself.

    Good luck with the recovery.

  • Thanks so much. It is still slightly painful and tight today - the ibuprofen helped a lot. Once the pair has gone, I will build up gently with interval running.

  • Ive had a continuous pain in my inner right thigh since i did w6r3 six days a go now. It's really frustrating to come along so far and I'm missing the exercise now. I'm hoping it will be better soon but I don't want to make it worse!

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