Tight Calf Muscles

I had a stress fracture of the shin around Easter and started running again mid August. Since then I have built up from 2-3 sessions covering around 10 miles, to 4-5 sessions covering an average of 30 miles p/w.

In the last 2-3 weeks, I have upped the average length of my sessions, but dropped the number so I am doing 2-3 runs of 10 miles plus as I have entered a couple of halfs.

Since I changed my schedule I have experienced some slight cramping of the calf during runs which comes on gradually from about 3 miles in.

 Come the morning after my run, I can barely walk to start with, due to a tightness of the calf muscle and the area down towards the achilles tendon. This eases up as the day goes on and doesn't feel right until a couple of days after my run.It feels like someone has tied a big knot in my calf.

 I use different shoes (DS Trainer / Adistar Control) based upon the session i'm doing and have had orthotics for at least a year. I also stretch for around 15 minutes before and after running.

 What I need to know is who should I go to for getting it sorted? My GP isn't sympathetic to sports injuries (if it hurts then stop running so I don't need to treat you on NHS), or should i pay the extortionate amount to see a private physiotherapist or arrange for a massage?? I've seen a physio before and been mis-diagnosed so am apprehensive about going back.


  • Get a decent sports physio/aassage therapist.  There are some really great physio's out there, but it's a matter of finding them.  I was misdiagnosed by a 'sports' physio I got from the phone book, but now have a brilliant physio on recommendation from an elite running friend.  (Not surprisingly, this physio is NOT in the phone book, and is in great demand!).  Ask at a local Athletics Club for a recommendation.  Or if you want to try massage as a first (and probably cheaper) resort, Google Sports Massage Assosciation which has a directory of reputable trained therapists, and you can find one local to you.  I have had two from SMA and both were good and knew their stuff.

     I wouldn't have thought doing all your ruins at 10 miles was wise.  One long (10-15 miles) run a week and the rest shorter should be fine for a half.

    Take care and good luck.

  • Oh my god I have this EXACT problem, leading from a stress-fracture also...

    Sadly I can't help as I have no idea...

  • I suffer from tight calves as well (also suffered a stress fracture in the past but are unrelated).  RB is spot on - a good sports massage (I now have one once a month although my calves are fine) and a good stretch is to stand on a step and drop both your heels off the back of the step - gently, no bouncing!  Hold the stretch for 30 secs, repeat 4 times gradually building to 8.  Do this 3 - 4 times a day while you are not running and carry it on when you get back to running.

    The pain you describe in the morning is probably because the inflammed area is around the area where your achillies comes out of your calf muscle - it is very common.  Also doing 3 runs of 10 miles isn't the best - one LSR of 10 - 14 miles and 3 others of varying shorter distances mixing up the speed would be more beneficial.  Also, while your calves are tight, be careful running up hill - it makes it worse.

    Hope you get it sorted.

  • Thanks for all the advice. I'll try the stretching & change my training schedule. If that doesn't work, i'll try the sports massage.
  • I think what you do after a run is important too. If I sit down and watch TV for e.g. after a run I'll find my achilles and calfs shorten and are worse the next morning. If I do some standing up activity they are not so bad. Because I run last thing before it get's dark and just before the 6 o'clock news I tend to watch TV for the first half hour standing behind the couch on an angled board (with my toes a couple of inches above my heels). This seems to work for me.
  • I also have tight calves which have contributed to my plantar fasciitis problems. MHS podiatrist gave me a fab stretch - stand with your heel close to a wall/firm object so your foot it tilted upwrds - ie your toes are on the wall. Keep your leg straight and push your hip forward and you get a lovely calf stretch. Hold for 5 seconds, repeat 10 ties each leg, at least twice a day. I also do the stretches waiting for the kettle to boil or whenever I find myself stood still! The trick is to lengthen the muscle. It's slowly working for me - my pf has improved a lot in the last month.


  • I think that's the equivalent of what I do which is standing with toes on a step and heels hanging down image
  • i have shin splints and achilles tendonitis- both have stemmed from having tight calves. i made the mistake of trying to battle on and made everything 100 times worse so get to see a physio (forget your gp, theyre a waste of time when it comes to sports injuries)- mine gave me some wonderful stretches and treatments to try which are helping. also defo get a massage regularly- amazing the diff they can make

     gwd luck image

  • Hi all, Had a few probs myself with this last few years, never had any professional help, just the R.I.C.E. method of recovery(too tight to pay for help)image. Hate not being able to run though,become a right grumpy old gitimage.

    Have now changed my training though to running offroad a lot more, much kinder to the legs/body than lumping down on hard pavements/roads & also great running out in the open countryside taking in some wonderful sights,animals,wildlife etc.


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