Calf tightness.....need advice!

Can anyone help!

Over the last two months I've found that when running after about 2 / 3 miles my right calf tightens and rather than continue running for fear of injury I stop, walk home and do some stretching. I had a deep tissue massage earlier this week and was told that my right side was tighter than the left, the main areas being by calf and quads. Off the back of this I was advised that I should add a stretching session to my marathon training programme (I due to run the MK marathon) and also my after run stretches should be held for 1 minute as opposed to the 20 seconds that I'd been doing. I also attend vibro training sessions, the focus on these sessions has been to loosen up the tightness and improve blood flow but now I want to focus on strength.

Has anyone any suggestions how I can get rid of this problem, is it a matter of strength and stretching exercises for my calf and if yes, do I limit my mileage for a period which is depressing as I really looking to put in some decent distance runs as part of my marathon training.

I ran today and found that I started to feel a slight tightness after 2 miles but I kept running to see if I could run it off. Although still tight I completed 3.5 miles finding that at some points I felt the tightness and at others it appeared to relieve itself. Should I run through the tightness and get in more miles or am I just setting myself up for a serious injury?

Looking forward to the responses.


  • Have you looked at purchasing some calf compression sleeves? I've heard from numerous people (myself included) that these do help.

    These cost about £20 - £30 and are quite good value but shop around other than that try some strength training i.e. weights for your calf.

    To prevent your injury, ensure you keep getting it massaged.

  • Try googling 'trigger points'. Working on specific points to release them will be more effective than just general massage. You might also find that the problem isn't actually in your calf, but is caused by an issue elsewhere. But be prepared for it to hurt, at least to start with!
  • n.j.b10; bought some x2 calf guards yesterday, the guy in the shop was very helpful when I explained the problem and helped me choose a set that I could use whilst running and as part of my recovery.

    Running Rodent; I'll give that a try, didn't think about my calf being a symptom of something else.

    Have you any thoughts on compression tights, would going the full hog address the problem if it is caused by another muscle affecting the calf?

    Cheers for that!
  • I would first locate the problem, see a GP or Physio. If it is a symptom of something else inwhich compression tights can help then yes. I'm currently lookingat the 2XU. They are a bit more expensive then some other brands but I have heard plenty of good reviews about them. Also, try a thorough gait analysis.
  • Dear only runner
    I have the same problem with my calfs. I upped my training to get ready for the London marathon and had to stop as it was getting to painful
    I have just purchased a trigger point footballer roller to see if this will help.
    I will let you know how I get on with it.
    I have also been working really hard on my glutes as I have been advised that the problem may start there. There are some really good videos on YouTube to help you strengthen your glutes. I am going to try a 6 mile run tomorrow to see if any of the above have helped.
    If you come up with any other ideas please let me know
    Many thanks Adam
  • Good to hear from you Adam, maybe between the two of us we can find an answer especially as we have marathon targets which are only a week apart.

    I've found it fustrating not being able to get in any distance runs but I am focussing on some strength and stretching work. I'll check YouTube, let me know about the roller sounds interesting and if it works all the better.

    Hope the 6 mile run goes OK, I'm hoping to get in a few 3 - 5 mile runs in the week and hopefully a decent distance on Saturday.

  • Hi, i tore my calf at the start of october last year.Managed to get back two to three miling after xmas but suffered with tightening,I saw a local  physio had a couple of sports massages [ eye watering] but fingers crossed have been pain free since,use a foam roller as well irons out the tight spots.

    He also advised stretching three times a day and jumping on the spot 3x30 before a run to get  the blood into the calfs.

    I also wear 2xu calf gaurds which i have found pretty good.

    Sorry to keep going but i have found standing in my dustbin[cleaned out] full of water very cold for 10 mins post run has helped as well.

    hope your training kicks on and you stay pain free.

  • Thanks for the advise Jogon, I'm going to give jumping on the spot a go!
  • Easy jog to vibro training this morning and then 10 minutes on the vibro machine, nothing excessive just a warm up to get me ready for a 2 mile easy run. All was good until 1.5 miles into the run and then the infamous calf muscle tightness set in but I managed to complete the run and end with some stretching (holding stretches for 1 minute). Tonight the calf muscle still feels tight and I'm sure it's crept up my hamstring.

    Can you overdo the stretching? is a minute for each stretch too long?

  • No, a minute should be sufficient.
  • Hiya,

    Regular sports massage will help loads. Sports massage helps to flush any toxins and lactic acid build up out of your muscles and encourages blood flow which helps to restore the muscles. It is even more important if you are training for a marathon. Sports massage also helps stretch the muscles more.

    Try wearing calf supports/heat retainers too. It is also important to look at your running technique as you may be over pronating the foot which can cause tight calf muscles. Gel insoles may also be helpful. And of course, continue with stretching.

    Hope this info helps image

    Allstar Sports Massage
  • Just wanted to share with everyone that establishing the cause of a problem is key to resolution. As a result of visiting a Sports Therapist who outside of giving me a deep tissue massage also investigated my lifestyle activities. As a result she determined that my steel toe cap boots which I constantly use for work could be the root of my problem and advised that I replace or only use hem when necessary onsite.

    I've taken the advice and in the space of a week have managed a 3 mile road run, 45 minutes on a treadmill and only yesterday a 5.5 mile road run all of which did not result in any calf tightness....yippee!

    I'm not intending on rushing things, gradual mileage increase to be progressed along with adding a stretching programme to my marathon plan, continuing my vibro sessions and also a return deep tissue massage visit.
  • great news.... image  Keep stretching though image
  • I have suffered tightening of calves when I run over 10 miles. Its a gradual tightening which if I then didnt adjust my style to stretch the calf on the move then they would then pull (weeks out)

    I have done many things; (marks out of 10 for impact by each)

    1-strengthened glutes - 7

    2- stretches -6

    3- calf sleeves -4

    4-moved from toe/forefoot runner to mid foot (v hard) - 8

    5- calf strengthening -?

    6- moving ankle around whilst running ( stretches on the move) - 8

    7- concentrating on not under pronating (in fact trying to force my foot to strike more on the indside rather than outside) -8

    8- Kinisiology tape -9

    sometimes when things have worked it has resulted in better calf but painful quads.

  • I also am suffering from tight calves which seem to cramp quite easily as well. I bought a foam roller which I have been using after a run but unsure whether I should use it on non run days ie on cold muscles would this help or make it worse?
  • Hang on! There needs to be some logic applyed here....if something's tight, stretch it and it'll get less tight. If something's tight and you stretch it and it doesn't feel less tight the you're doing the wrong stuff.

    The sensation you feel of being tight is most likely over stretched, which feel identical. You be got an over stretched calf muscle because you've lost control of how much your foot rolls in when running - this is either structural (your shoe is bust) or functional (you've lost gluteal control and your entire leg rolls in). Ether way just stretching, sports massage, compression will not help....

    As a flyer, could be an irritated sciatic nerve but I'd stay simple.
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