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Calf Strains - Sciatic Nerve To Blame ?????

I have been plagued by calf strains and pulls over the last few years, usually my right calf. Sometimes I can get 5 runs in before it goes.It once went while I was in my kitchen making a cuppa after being for a run. My calf muscles are strong and I stretch. Other times it will go sooner. I have been to see Physios, Chiropractors, Podiatrists and a Vet. OK I lied about the Vet. The first physio told me I needed orthotics.. Saw a podiatrist who told me my left leg was 5mm longer than right . Had orthotics made up but still same problem. Went to Asics store in London for Gait Analysis. Problem still there. Had my back checked by a Chiropractor who said it seemed ok. I had all this done privately. 10 months ago I decided to give the NHS a go. They think it may be my Sciatic Nerve rubbing on my Psoas, but the exercises they have given me haven't sorted it out. I have seen 4 different Physios over the years and the last 2 believe it to be the sciatic nerve but can't nail a solution. Has anyone any ideas that may help me, or has anyone else suffered from the same ? I walk a lot and it never goes while walking, and I cycle even more and never get a problem on the bike . i do spend a lot of time sitting down as I drive trains for a living. HELP PLEASE !!!!


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    Hi, a couple of years ago I had physio for a calf strain (right leg) that seemed to respond well to stretching, massage, acupuncture and dynamic exercises but recurred as soon as I tried to run again. Luckily I had Bupa cover and saw a Consultant in sports medicine who immediately suspected a lower back issue and authorised an MRI. This showed a disc in the lumbar spine was bulging, with the diagnosis that this was affecting the nerve, causing the calf to be overstimulated, which was then tearing. I was given loads of core and lower back exercises which solved the problem for me (for now at least, I've upped my mileage and no longer do much core work apart from recently taking up pilates...).

    I recommend an MRI of the suspect area,  from a quick google I see one end of the  psoa is near the lumber spine so I guess they could scan the muscle and the discs in one go.

    Good luck

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    RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Why does it matter so much? if you can only run five times before you tear; no doubt a pile of old scar tissue in your calf, there has to be a point where the situation becomes untenable.

    Stick to activities that you can do. It'll save you a shed load of time and money.

    Not everyone can run. Its luck of the draw. Otherwise you'll see everyone running around. They don't ,they can't, they were never meant to.

    Sorry about the reality. Its a fact.


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    The bluntest of blunt tools to see if your calf has any hang time with your sciatic nerve is to use a SLUMP or SLR test. This (may) differentiates between calf and nerve. 

    Try sitting on the edge of a table and slump/slouch. Hands behind your back and pull your right foot up. Now slowly straighten your right knee with foot still pulled up until you either feel resistance in your hammy or pain in your calf - hold still. Now put your chin on your chest - does this alter your calf or hammy tightnes? 

    If it does then then yo calf and nerve have possibly been getting jiggy....image

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    Thanks for all the feedback guys. Hopefully when I see the next lot of Physios I will get sent for an MRI scan.

    RicF, I used to run 3.20 marathons but about 18 months after I started driving trains the problem started and I haven't been able to get it sorted since. It may be something simple that needs doing so I'm going to keep plugging away until I'm told there is no hope.

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    I have suffered from the exact same problem.

    In April 2013 I had been getting lower back pain during and after runs. It was a stiffness that would eventually subside.  Then 5 miles into an 8 miler I slipped, a mile further on I pulled my right calf.  Initially I concentrated on stretching and strengthening the calf and then slowly building up the milage.  Each time I increased the consecutive days of running the pain in my lower back would increase until eventually my calf would go again. It has stopped me running (only 5 runs in 2014, max of 2 miles) and the lower back pain has increased.

    Through various physic treatments, acupuncture, massage and doctors consultations it transpires that I have reduced mobility and strength in my left glutes. I have recently had a deep muscle massage on my flutes and this has resulted in the realisation that my psoas muscles are as tight as.  I have now come to the conclusion that I have to strengthen and stretch out my psoas muscles as well as the flutes.  I'm not expecting any dramatic overnight cure. 

    I'll be interested to hear how you get on.


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    Thanks for getting in touch Ed. The physio dept I was seeing at local hospital have moved me on to their CMAX team. I think its their Muscular/Skeletal trouble shooting dept. Hopefully they can get to the bottom of it. One thing I have noticed is I scrunch my toes up when I walk, (and probably when I run too). I wonder if this could have anything to do with it. I have no control over my toes except to move them all together. I cannot isolate 1 toe on either foot. Weird !!!

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    I had sciatica years ago, got really bad pain in calves as well as lower back. Nhs physio suspected prolapsed disc and an mri scan confirmed this. Luckily am now over it but still get back pain if I don't look after myself. Too much sitting is bad for backs, so quite possibly it is your work that is causing problem. Good luck!

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    Thanks Mr Worry. My lower back is a bit achey in the morning but nothing major. I can walk for miles with no calf trouble ( or Back pain ) but when I run, it's pot luck if I finish the run or do the "walk of shame" home, as a calf normally pulls !!!!image

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    I know that this post is 18 months old but I have exactly the same problems and guess what, I'm a train driver too.

    My latest attempt to stop the dreaded calf is removing my wallet from my back pocket. Sitting on this for hours on end made my pelvis hips and lower back ache like mad. It also affected my sleep but in the two weeks since I removed it everything has improved. 

    Whilst it may not be a cure there is no doubt it has improved my quality of life !

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    I have sorted the problem out now. After reading Runninginthehills comment , I placed a second wallet into my empty back pocket , so that my hips were now level when I sat down with a wallet in each back pocket. Jobs a good one
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    @"Calamari Boy" glad you have sorted the problem. I have got a very similar problem and seem to be going through the steps you went through ie chiropractor, sports massage, podiatrist etc. Would be really useful to understand how you solved the problem?
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