Calf problems


every time I run I find that after about 5 miles I get like cramp or something in my calf which causes it lock right up so I can't run anymore. I have had lots of physio and sports massage which helps and they recommended wearing calf guards which are excellent. If I wear them I still feel little sharp pains in the calves but it never gets any worse so I can keep running.

I wondered if anyone has any idea of what might be causing my calf problems and if there is anything I can do that might mean I can ditch the calf guards?




  • I'm not sure what the difference might be between locking and pain. Three years ago I had a calf muscle tear which was treated by a physio some while after it had happened. She said that there was scar tissue there and that that what was causing me continued pain. That all got sorted out, mainly through fairly long periods of rest and light stretching-in fact it took about six weeks overall. Since then my calf has spoiled my running again on two or three further occasions...I'm currently in the throes of not being able to run because of a pain that creeps up very quickly upon starting to run. In this case within a half minute! This latest episode came on during a run at about the four mile mark causing me to have to turn back and walk home. It's not a tear I don't think because it kind of creeps up. I've thought about it being cramp but not sure. In recent episodes when I have felt it ok to run again I've worn a calf support for a few weeks as I build up the miles. I can't be done with going to a physio again (cost!) so am going to wait another two weeks and start off again. I suspect that not running for a reasonable period of time will heal the problem!

  • Hi Steve sorry to hear about your calf troubles, sounds fairly similar to my problem. Touch wood I find the calf guards really help but I cant run without them now. I use a foam roller and do lots of stretching before and after runs but although that surely helps the calf guards are still a must for me

  • Thanks for that be truthful I guess that's the one thing I've not done. Ever. I'll start giving it a go and report back!

  • Cheers Flob, I'll give the strengthening a go too

  • I had a calf problem which sounds similar to yours for years. It felt like it would "ping", at which point I couldn't run and if I tried to go on, it would lengthen the recovery time from a couple of days to several weeks.

    I changed my running style to the "forefoot/midfoot" style (as opposed to heal striking) and the problem disappeared overnight.

    However, if you give this a go, do build up your mileage slowly or it can lead to other problems. But it is worth it.image

  • cheers blackcat... I'm doing the new forest half marathon this September but after that I might give the change of running style a try too.

  • How much water do you drink a day Crippso? Are you a heavy sweater when running? (ie, do you get white marks on run kit?)

  • Hi Johnas, probably not enough and I guess I'd class as a super heavy sweater.. and that's before I even get my running shoes on


  • I'd try and make a concerted effort to increase your hydration levels - you'll be amazed that something so simple can have such a positive effect. Get yourself a 500ml drinks bottle and try and fill it 3 or 4 times a day. And if you're a heavy sweater, add a product like Nuun tablets to replace necessary electrolytes - don't do it for every refill (it'll enbd up costing a bomb) but maybe just once a day.

    if you're not drinking enough water throughout the day, the body will naturally look after the more important places before your calf muscles which might be the reason you're getting the cramps. Something that no amount of physio or massage will sort out.

  • Cheers Johnas, I'll give that a go. Looks like I'll have to do some serious research into those tables, each brand seems to have different amounts of certain things!

  • I wouldn't get caught up in all that Crippso. Just go for a well trusted brand like Nuun, SIS or High 5 and you'll get what you're after. No need to overcomplicate it and remember drinking water throughout the day is just as important

    Worth searching out deals on line for the tablets as they can work out expensive though. 

  • Ultra runners use salt/electrolyte supplement tabs; my wife finds "S!Caps" from Centurian Runners excellent and better than "saltstick caps" (buffered electrolyte salt capsules. The tablets for Centurian Runners she says are easier to swallow. But ...back to MY calf problem (well initially it was the "ping" like BlackCat's...a real muscle tear and typical sensation of one. My calf problems since have been probably due to scar tissue and not doing things right! I'm into my twelfth day of NO running at all and am expecting to do  twenty five paces of jogging on Saturday! If this goes well then it will be a patient slow, slow increase over a period of about two weeks and even then only gradually building up. I've done it this way before and it worked!

  • Thanks all for the help. The hydration tablets really work! No more calf cramps. Also I find that now its winter I don't really need them and I don't get the calf cramps, so it looks like the cause of my calf cramps is definitely a result of sweating away all the important minerals.

  • I've just had a nose at runners problems (I'm in the calf problem club) But what strikes me the most is how important it is to drink plenty of water (something I'm always neglecting, hence injuries creep in) So I've just downed a pint of water lol, New years res/// DRINK More water!

  • The bain of my running life for years. The "old Mans" injury (im 47) of muscle tears has blighted me over recent years. After plenty of physio, i wouldnt say im an expert, but i can relate entirely to Crippso's problems. Physio gave me deep tissue massage to get rid of the scar tissue. This is done by stimulating colagen production, which repairs the muscle, getting it all to run in "straight lines". Painful massage, often to the point of bruising, but over time it worked along with strengthlening exercises. These exercises are a must. Sadly, even now, I have no confidence in running for further than half an hour without being nervous that that awful shooting pain can happen at any time image - I empathise completely with you Crippso. If you have no physio, and no strengthening exercises, it doesnt matter how long you rest, the scar tissue will remain, and your calfs will always be weak -  the calf pain will ALWAYS come back without the strength. Incredibly fustrating.

  • Old man's injury be jiggered!  (I'm 64). I've been back able to run well for a full hour for a while now..however I tend to agree with El Tel..that some intensive work needs to be directed at the muscle. Stretching (I stretch mine now, maybe six times x 30 seconds a day), strengthening and some physio work (if you can afford it!) seems the best approach. Having said that I did find that rest seemed to work to some degree for a while but.... having had a recurrence of three occasions within four years maybe I didn't have enough physio (two sessions following initial problem). Cost can get in the way of "cure" and I wonder whether those self massagers/massage balls would be a reasonable alternative if you have to watch the credit card bills!

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