Lower calf pain

Been running for about 20 years, steady slow pace, usually around 8 miles, 5 x week, including very steep hill work once per week.  Several marathons, never had calf trouble before.

Recently developed calf stiffness in one leg after a run (no pain at all during) which made walking downstairs painful.  I could still run with minimal pain so kept running but afterwards stiffness turned to pain, especially when downstairs.  Pain is low down, mostly on outside but some in middle, 2-3 inches up from heel.

Rested for a month, no change.  Doctor prescribed strong anti-inflammatories, bit better.  But now 6 weeks of rest later and it still feels stiff. I (carefully) jogged for a bus yesterday and could feel it. 

Can't afford physio, sadly.  No pain at all during/after walking, so am walking 4 miles a day which doesnt seem to affect it, but i can still feel the tightness when i stretch my toes upwards so i daren't run yet.

Will i ever get better?!  Any advice gratefully received.


  • Is it definetely your calf, or could it be radiating pain from yoru achilles? What have you done in terms of stretching/self massage/foam rolling/compression?

  • PLease don't think I am recommending this but I just wanted to share my experience of calf pain and how I 'fixed' it.  I started suffering from exactly the type of pain you describe a few weeks ago.  Quite similar pain to shin splints but only in one leg.  Felt pain at the bottom of my calf muscle and radiating down the indside of my shin to my ankle.  Felt really stiff when walking downstairs but was okay upstairs.

    It was only a niggle whilst running, but once I'd stopped it was really painful.  I tried resting, icing, massaging and it didn't get better.  I carried on running and although the pain was bearable, I certainly wasn't helping matters.  I took part in a speed session with the club (silly thing to do when you have a niggle!) and I just had to pull up because of the pain.

    I got fed up with it and before forking out for a physio I decided just go to the gym and work hard on any machine that didn't cause any pain.  Got on the bike and was pleased to find it didn't hurt at all so I 'hammered' it as hard as I could for 30 minutes.......my leg has been fine ever since image.  Ran a slow 12 miles the next day and a steep fell route of 8.5 miles the day after that with no trouble.

    Again, I'm not saying that this is what you should do but just thought it was worth sharing my experience.  I would guess that I was suffering from some sort of compacted muscle or trapped nerve or something along those lines.  The leg just needed a good work out without the impact of running.  Either that or the fear of paying hefty physio bills sorted my calf right out!

    Really hope you get back on your feet soon image

  • Hi guys.  Many thanks indeed for your insight Tiny Runner, i must admit that resonates!   I'm so pleased you're fixed.  Might give that a try if i'm no better soon.

    Thanks too Dancing in Spikes - nothing at all in terms of any of those.  When i stretch i feel the tightness (not pain) so didnt know whether that meant i should stretch more, or not at all!

  • Oh and sorry Dancing in Spikes not sure about my achilles.  I have studied pictures of the muscle groups and can't quite place where my problem is.  Its certainly very near the achilles i'd say. 

  • Any swelling, at the time or now?

  • Not at all, and no pain if i massage the area, which i'm hoping is a good thing!

  • My issue. Pulled up 8 miles into half marathon with excruciating calf pain after I felt it tighten for a mile (like a bullet hitting me). I could barely walk back. Thought I had pulled or torn calf but next day hardly any pain at all? This has been pattern since. Cycling doesnt hurt it at all and indeed it feels better after. No pain on heel raises and massage and strength training things. Any clues?




  • Just had a session to day with an expensive physio regarding pain in my left calf during runs which they diagnosed very tight calf muscles from previous injuries ex Army so plenty of them . As I'm sure you know Elbows Out , he re educated the importance of stretching twice a day everyday slowly and massaging my Achilles heel with tiger balm .

    My pain started on the outside of my calf going very stiff and very tight resulting sharp stabbing pain at the back of the calf .
  • Ive had a few calf niggles over the last few years and after visiting a physio i finally seem to have it under control (touch wood.)

    Im not a physio so this is just what worked for me by the way.

    Basically he advised me to do eccentric calf drops, im doing these 3 times a day with 15 reps on each leg.

    Have a look at the link.


    Im also using a foam roller after every run.

    The last few months my calfs have felt really strong this is despite upping my mileage quite significantly.

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