Tight calves

Has anyone else experienced tight calves after taking up running? I'm 52 and I've been regularly running since Christmas, after the previous 35 years sitting down. I'd never considered myself particularly unfit, and I can now run for an hour or so non-stop, so cardio fitness came back pretty quickly after the years of inactivity. However, I now get very tight calves after doing anything more than about 5k, unless I go at a snails pace. It only comes on 2-3 days after a run, unless I go out running again the following day, which I find impossible to do due to work/family committments. For example, on Saturday I did a Parkrun in just over 24 minutes, and then another 5K+ in the afternoon (at a slower pace). I'm now sat here on a Monday evening feeling that I can't run because of fear of pulling a calf. What's the solution, run every day or just accept that I can only run every 4-5 days after the calves have loosened up? I've tried foam roller for a couple of minutes several times a day, and regular stretching throughout the day, but I'm not convinced it really helps. I'd be interested to hear others experiences & possible solutions....

Comments

  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Hi Neil - do you do a warm-up and cool down? A dynamic warm-up to begin with will help raise the heart rate and also make sure everything is fairly loose, whilst the cool down will stretch out the warm muscles and hopefully help with the lactic build-up. These are things that are generally forgotten as important by a lot of runners (myself included).
  • Yep, warm up & stretch for at least 10-15 minutes and then stretch/walk afterwards. After another nights sleep, the calves feel better, but still not fit to run on. I suspect it will be Thursday/Friday before I feel fit to run again, but running only 5-6 times per month just isn't enough :-(
  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭✭
    Maybe you need a different type of shoe.   The drop could be too low for you and is putting too much pressure on your calf muscles.  

    Or you may need to change your running form/style is that is the cause.  I would suggest a visit to a podiatrist or physio that has recommendations from other runners.
  • > @SHADES said:
    > Maybe you need a different type of shoe.   The drop could be too low for you and is putting too much pressure on your calf muscles.  
    >
    > Or you may need to change your running form/style is that is the cause.  I would suggest a visit to a podiatrist or physio that has recommendations from other runners.

    New shoes are on their way (Asics Nimbus 20). Supposedly slightly higher heel drop. What you say makes sense because when I experimented running with a more forefoot strike the problem got worse. Very frustrating though if I have to revert to heel striking to protect my calves, because the next thing to let go will be the old knees!
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    It is a good call on the shoes, but did you decide on the Asics yourself or have you had gait analysis done? Most decent running shops will do some form analysis and allow you to have a run to try them out.
  • > @Guarddog said:
    > It is a good call on the shoes, but did you decide on the Asics yourself or have you had gait analysis done? Most decent running shops will do some form analysis and allow you to have a run to try them out.

    Asics came recommended. Had my son video me in slo-mo, and I'm pretty neutral. Running form looks quite good actually, until the fatigue sets in, but I think that probably applies to all of us. My cadence at 5K pace is around 170-175 so that should keep me out of the injury zone. Up until now I've been running in cheap Nike shoes which don't seem to have a great deal of cushioning, and I'm hoping that, at least in part, this is where the problem lies. I'll find out next week I guess.....
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Good luck with them. I've had Asics for the best part of 14 years now and the GT-2000 for my last 8 pairs. Found they worked and have just stuck with what I know.
  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭✭

    New shoes are on their way (Asics Nimbus 20). Supposedly slightly higher heel drop. What you say makes sense because when I experimented running with a more forefoot strike the problem got worse. Very frustrating though if I have to revert to heel striking to protect my calves, because the next thing to let go will be the old knees!
    A lot of the lower priced Nikes are for street wear, guy in my running shop said he'd never sell some of them to runners.

    You should notice a great difference when you get your Nimbus.  You may have tight calf muscles and this is something that you have to manage but there's nothing wrong with being a heel striker.   Don't be tempted to try and change as that could lead you to more calf problems and even worse achilles problems.  Don't worry about cadence either, everyone has their own way of running so don't try and hit a perfect 180 cadence as that may not be right for you

    Let us know how you get on with your new shoes :)

  • Guarddog said:
    Good luck with them. I've had Asics for the best part of 14 years now and the GT-2000 for my last 8 pairs. Found they worked and have just stuck with what I know.
    Going of topic here but I have a question about the GT-2000. I to have been using them for the last few years, I have had a few pairs of versions 2 and 4 which where fine but my latest pair of version 5 only lasted about 200 miles before the inner heal deteriorated (wore through) so badly that they cannot be used for running. Have you had this problem? I'm hoping my issue is a one off but I've noticed the inner material is different on the version 5 to the previous versions.    
  • SHADESSHADES ✭✭✭✭
    I don't use GT2000 but I'm sure they are a fairly high mileage shoe.  Take them back to the shop, could be a manufacturing fault.
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Going of topic here but I have a question about the GT-2000. I to have been using them for the last few years, I have had a few pairs of versions 2 and 4 which where fine but my latest pair of version 5 only lasted about 200 miles before the inner heal deteriorated (wore through) so badly that they cannot be used for running. Have you had this problem? I'm hoping my issue is a one off but I've noticed the inner material is different on the version 5 to the previous versions.    
    I have noticed the same, although perhaps not to the degree that you've experienced whereby I can't use them and perhaps not after just 200 miles. As suggested it might be an idea to take them back.
  • In a similar vein, I am currently experiencing pain in my calf muscles. I completed a sprint triathlon back in August (5K run). Since then I have not been able to run (not even short 30 second runs) due to a tightness in my calves. I have tried stretching my ham strings and massaging my calves, but as soon as I start running, the pain comes back again.
    Is the best thing for me to just keep stretching or could it be something more serious?
  • Hi Andrew - Two months does seem a long time and if it was a tear (although unlikely in both calves at the same time) it should have improved by now. Do you stop after the initial 30 seconds when the pain kicks in or do carry on? And if you carry on does the pain subside?

    If it's the latter it may just be that you need to warm the muscles up first of all. Stretching beforehand is not such a good idea if the muscles are cold, better to try some dynamic warm-ups. Then remember to stretch then out when you've finished your run.

    If it's the former I'd suggest a visit to the physio to see if there's an underlying problem. It may well be your runners.
  • I'm 23 and find that stretching after helps immensely. Very tempting to just plonk down on the couch after a run but if you plan on running regularly then stretching is paramount :)
  • jtfacejtface ✭✭
    I find that focusing on being relaxed when I run helps massively. If I consciously TRY to do something with my stride/gait it cripples me. Saying that - I am also experimenting with not stretching after runs... I'll let you know how that goes! Oh, and foam rollers are brill for knots in muscles... Get a proper knobbly one though - none of the wimpy smooth ones!
  • Have you heard of Katie Bowman? She has a great book about foot pain relief which includes some great calf stretches, particularly using a half dome.
  • CrazeeTCrazeeT ✭✭✭
    Tight calves, sports massage. Sorted me out no end. I did too much to soon, I went from never doing sport to 10 miles in 4 months and as a result of being a heavyweight my calves were very knotted. A few sessions did me the world of good.
  • I used to have tight calves after a run I added an extra stretch of my calves, if your running outside put the ball of you foot on the curb and heel in gutter and lean into the stretch, if in a gym just use a small kettlebell.
  • I have tight calves, I notice it in everyday walking, when going up hill, and when I run, but it loosens up after a mile. Apart from lunges, what stretches could I do? 
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Hi Williams - I wouldn't recommend any stretches before you run. Stretching on cold muscles can cause issues. The fact that they loosen up after a mile would suggest that you need to perform a warm-up beforehand to get the muscles engaged and also to get the heart pumping as well. This could be 5 to 10 mins activity, but you should feel slightly puffed by the effort. 

    Stretching out afterwards is certainly recommended. This eases the muscles, getting rid of some of the knots as well as helping with the lactic acid.
  • DaisydooDaisydoo ✭✭✭
    Hiya. I get tight calf muscles and I've found that standing on a step after my run and dropping my heels, holding and then going up on my toes and holding for 5 mins or so has made a huge difference. 

    And yes, foam (vomit inducing) rolling also helps. Hope things improve  


  • There's a foam roller type stick which is really hard and painful but I find is really good as I have had tight calves in the past. You can pick them up on Amazon 
  • ListlessListless ✭✭
    I have the foam roller than also has a rolling pin thing perfect for mashing up tight calves 
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