Calf pain and using a foam roller - advice needed please

My husband injured his calves about 2 years ago and despite loads of investigation (including seeing a specialist surgeon) and physio they are still really tight and he pulled one again 2 weeks ago after just a mile of a run.  He has had good periods (he managed to train for an complete an off-road sprint triathlon!) but is finding it very frustrating.

He has bought a foam roller (on the suggestion of a physio) but isn't sure how often he should use it and how many "rolls" he should do each session - especially as he finds the rolling quite painful.

He is off to see a physio again next week, but i just wondered if anyone out there in lovely runnersworld can offer any advice?

Thanks all


  • It all depends on how tight he is.  If he has really tight muscles then it might be too painful to do much, but even a little will help.  I find it most beneficial to start at either the top or the bottom of the leg and move up an inch at a time, holding in that position until either the pain eases off (which means that the muscle is relaxing) or the pain gets too intense (in which case there is no point pushing it any further that time).  When I get to the end of the leg I stop.  That might be 5 minutes or 15 minutes depending on how I feel on the day.

    Another method is to move up gradually but to rock the roller around the painful spots rather than hold it static.  I find this easier to tolerate than holding in just one position as you get pain then relief in quick bursts.

    If it is so sore that he can't do either of the above then doing bigger movements down the length of the muscle will help too.

    The roller only works on one small spot at a time, so don't forget to move to the left and right of the muscle too so that you cover the whole area.  I often find that it is the sides of the muscles that are worst rather than the main body of the muscle.

    Its a case of suck it and see.  He will soon work out where the painful bits are that need working on the most

  • As for how often, it depends on how sore the area is afterwards.  Once a day is good, but twice a day would be better while he is having specific problems.  Trouble is that the roller can leave the muscle a bit tender and bruised so it might be too painful to do as frequently as that.

    Probably best to do little and often at the moment until the muscle relaxes enough that he can go deeper.

  • Thanks SuperCaz - he's been taking your advice and it seems to be helping...slow progress but that's better than no progress!

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