Reoccurring Calf injury

Hi, just wanted some advice, I have only been running for around a year now (completed my 1st Half Marathon in March. However I have a reoccurring Calf injury, the 1st time it happened I had gone from running on the road to treadmill, I rested it for two weeks and felt fine, I tried another road run, didn’t get very far and it went again.  I went to see a physiotherapist, he gave me some tips and advice. I rested for two weeks, it was fine for a while.

In February I was training for half Marathon and it went again (two weeks before) I went back to Physiotherapist and he gave me some stretches to do 3 times a day, it got me through half Marathon, but it was painful also.

About 3 weeks ago I was running and started to build up  my speed, yep it went again! This time it felt worse, I have not been for a run since and went for a sports massage last week; I took some of his advice and am hoping to try a run this weekend.

I am stretching before and after, what am I doing wrong and how can I prevent this happening again, I hate the fact it takes me out of running and is almost a fear each time I run. This is getting really frustrating!


  • Hi Kelly

    That all sounds rather irritating!

    Tell me what exercises and stretches you are doing so far.
    What treatment were you given?
    Have you had your running gait analysed, been assessed on video for your trainers?
    Do you have any lower back issues?

    Sorry about the questions - just gives me something to work from when I launch into response.

  • Hi Greg,


    I am doing various stretches, not sure of all names, but usual calf stretch. (one leg back with heal to floor and other bent) I am also standing to tip toe, holding then releasing, I do this on both feet and then on either foot. I bend down, touch my toes and then stretch my back, by sort of arching it.  I lean against wall (side, shoulder  against wall) feet out further together and legs straight, then bend my hip into wall (Phsyio showed me these). I also do the usual upper leg and shoulder stretches, sorry not sure of the name of them all, hope this makes sense.

    When I saw Physio 1st time he just did a calf massage, 2nd time he did a back and calf massage.

    I have never had running gait analysed no been assessed for trainers.

    I did not have any lower back problems, but lately it does slightly niggle but nothing that is too uncomfortable. I have been more aware of this pain since I saw Physio.

    Sorry for ignorance but what does having running gait analysed involve?  



  • Hi Kelly

    Thanks for the info.
    You certainly are going through the roller coaster of injury, rest and then re-injury.

    I am going to assume that this is muscular in nature (there may be an element of low back)
    Your calf is carrying a chronic strain which settles but is not healed and then when you go out on it again it can't cope with the stress applied and it fails again.

    Important to understand that there are 2 big muscles plus a third smaller muscle making up the calf: the 2 big are the Gastrocnemius - you feel this when you do a calf stretch with the knee straight, and the Soleus which is stretched when the knee is dipping down - this is the most important one for runners.

    You need to get the tight muscle loose - deep massage both in length and in width, daily use of roller, acupuncture, stretching

    You need to develop the muscle - I suggest you look into a technique called Eccentric calf rehab - this is strengthening and building the endurance of the calf as you lengthen the calf muscle - i call them calf drops - done easily off the edge of a step. If you want I can explain in more detail.

    You need to look at your bio-mechanics - is there something about the way you move when running which places increased stress on that calf. As a simple test I get my runner to perform a single leg squat as a static hold and then a series of dips looking for any signs of lumbar/pelvic/ hip/ foot and ankle dysfunction. If we find something then a rehab programme is put in place to help improve this.

    I use a simple hop test to determine return to running:
    first I get my athlete to do 10 hops on the spot if they achieve this without any issues I then get them to do 30 - 50 if no problems then I give them a run:walk interval schedule to allow a slow progression back into running. I think this is where many athletes go wrong-the pain has settled so we just go straight back out and run continuously not thinking that the muscle is still weak and lacks endurance.

    Running gait analysis looks at your running form -usually video of you running then reviewed in slow mo, trying to establish if there is something about your technique which may predispose you to injury eg. over-pronation in foot or excessive internal rotation of hip through stance phase. Your running physio should be able to do this - we are not running coaches we are just looking for possible problems.

    Have a read and do some research into those areas -let me know what you think and then we can try to develop that a bit more.


  • Hi Greg,

    Thanks for response, some useful things I  need to be aware of, I really want to avoid this reoccurring as much as possible, as it is preventing me progressing. As much as I am aware I have gone back running too soon, I am now willing to do what it takes to get it right, even if that means a longer break from running (as much as I don’t like the idea of that!)

    I do feel that there is something about my posture as I have also had heel pain on and off. So maybe the running gait analysis is worth looking into further.

    I have looked into the Eccentric calf rehab and will start that also, I will definitely do the hop test before getting out there and attempting a run. 

     Thanks for info 


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