Pain in calves

Hi all

I recently started running to both lose weight and strengthen my lower back muscles. I'm pleased to say I'm succeeding in both despite only starting less than a month ago.

I run on average three times a week and am currently averaging at a couple of miles a day, though not all in one shot. I power walk between running. I am trying to build myself up gradually which is NOT in my nature at all as my instinct is to do as much as possibly as quickly as possible.

The pain I was experiencing in my lower back which drove me to start running anyway has completely gone. However I am getting dull aching in my calves that gets steadily worse the further I run. I believe it is this that is stopping me from improving my distance more than my fitness level. I run both on pavement and in woodland near my home and my running shoes are of decent quality. I spoke to my doctor who said take ibuprofen before I run.

Does anyone have any tips for me, or ways I could improve or suggestions for doing thing differently...? My only goal is to keep losing weight. When I am at my target weight I still plan to keep running as to tell the truth I am already a little addicted to the endorphin rush I get!


  • Taking an anti-inflammatory each time before you run is most definitely not a good thing, is the pain in your calves a soreness or a pain ? If its soreness, then continue to run and stretch each calf for a count of 40 (Once they are warmed up).

    If it is PAIN then it will be a muscle strain and you need to apply RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) and you should give running a break for a week. A dull ache sounds like soreness and that you have tight calves (I think I have the same thing).

    More stretching and not anti-inflammation in this case is the correct option.
    Also does running strengthen lower ones lower back ? I didn't think it does but maybe a more experienced runner will correct me image
  • Just reread my post and it could be construed as 'ibuprofen is bad ok'. Please don';t read it that way, all I'm saying is reserve it for muscle strains and not general muscle soreness (Just walking is uncomfortable with a strain)
  • Sensible advice from James, and good that you're enjoying the running. My guess would be tightness, I had the same when I restarted running a few years ago. I didn't believe that such pain could be caused simply by tight calves, but a good stretching plan should make things easier. If you're able to find a reasonable local sports massage then that will loosen things up as well.

    As you build up your running, you should also think about your running shoes, what are you running in at the moment? The plan you're following sounds sensible, if you havent already discovered the Couchto5k plans then they're really good and similar to what you're doing.

    To give you extra motivation have a look for your local Parkrun. They're free 5k volunteer based runs on a Saturday morning, very friendly and it doesn't matter if you have to walk part of them.

  • How about trying a yoga class too? It should help stretch out your legs, as well as being good for the longer-term health of your back.
  • The following will help:

    - do the soleus stretch A LOT.
    - Pilates.
    - If you have a gym available, calf raises. You can do unweighted ones (or use dumbbells) on any improvised step.
    - walking around barefoot when possible.

    A bit of muscle pain is how your muscles develop. Anti-inflammatories (used regularly) will likely sabotage this development. However, if the muscles are tight when you're not using them, it's a recipe for injury, and you need to stretch out that tightness.
  • self massage - roller type of thing on the floor.

    your body isnt use to the extra exercise - take ample rest between sessions for the body to recover.

    cross-train to help non running muscles pull it altogether ....

    and enjoy ...

    happens to us all at the start .... like you ... my calf muscles were a real pain to begin with but you must persevere.

    good luck
  • It might also be worth checking you are running in the right trainers, when I returned to running after having my second child I took it really steady but had so much pain in my calves no matter how much I stretched, so I went to get my feet checked out again and found that my feet had grown 1/2 a size. I purchased the correct size and haven't looked back. Good luck with the running image
  • Sorry I know this an old thread. Been running for about 4 months now, this month I have significantly upped my distance and number of runs. Last few runs however have left me with pain in the top part of my left calf muscle, almost behind the knee joint. Reading through all posts I am unsure if this is a strain or just soreness. It is fine when I rest, painful when I initially start to walk and put weight on it, but ok once I am mobile for a bit... In other words I am able to walk/run the pain off. Am I looking at a strain or pull here (did not get the pop sound people talk about) or is the calf just fatigued from the increase in running? Am desperate to get out and train today, but won't if it risks things getting worse... If I have to rest for 4/6 weeks I think I will go mad!

  • I had a dull ache in my calf for about a year. I saw numerous physios and really struggled to get rid of it. What i found out in the end was that i was not pushing off my big toe very much and over compensation by using my 4 other toes, this put a lot of strain on the soleus which is where the pain came from. According to the windlass mechanism you are supposed to use your big toe to do about 80% of your push off when running at full speed. The pain i was getting was on the outside of my leg, particularly at the top. The way i got rid of it was to do a lot of heel raises but concentrating on pushing off the big toe and doing the soleus stretch. My physio recommended starting off doing 15 heel raises and 15 bend knee heel raises 3 times a day and build up from there. Also holding the soleus stretch for 30 seconds with the knee in the 10, 12 and 2o'clock positions, again 3 times per day. I would recommend not running until you get rid of the pain completely, this took me about 2 weeks and then start off running well below your top pace and building up slowly. Hope this helps, it was the most annoying injury i ever had and very hard to get rid of.

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