Calf pain after running more than about 45 mins

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01/05/2012 at 12:17
Hi guys,

I was hoping for some guidance regarding an injury I have had for a while now. It first happened about 2 months ago. I went on a pretty long run of about 11.5 miles. At the end of it my left calf was killing me. Rock hard and very painful. I tried going for a short run about a week later, but it was too uncomfortable. I then went about 2 weeks without doing anything, following by light swimming and cycling. My first few runs of about 4 miles each went fine. No discomfort. However, yesterday I went for a longer 7 mile run and I noticed the pain and hardness in my left calf again. I took it very easy, but the discomfort was definitely there again.

Description of pain: It builds slowly. Mainly lower calf, but I feel pain in the whole calf area. Stretching doesn't seem to help much. Yesterday I stopped twice during the run to stretch. Immediately after the run I stretched and massaged the calf. Interestingly, it doesn't hurt if I apply pressure to the muscle.

I was wondering if someone has had a similar problem? I have been running for about 2 years and run in the region of 2-3 times a week.

Thanks for your input in advance.
03/05/2012 at 14:29
Has anyone out there experienced anything similar? I'm not sure where to go from here? GP?
03/05/2012 at 15:31

I have something similar - did a half marathon about 8 weeks ago and then did two 8k runs, a week apart.  Towards the end of both I felt like there was a ball or something in my calf.  Since then I've had days when my left calf has felt really uncomfortable, especially early in the morning.  On other days, when my calf hasn't hurt, I've had nervy feelings at the top of my left leg.  Its really strange and has put me off getting out running because, although its not particularly painful now, I'm concerned that running will make it worse.  I'm going to a physio tomorrow as it doesn't seem to be going away.  Will let you know what she says.

03/05/2012 at 15:50

Cheers. It does sound a lot like the same thing. Looking forward to hearing what your physio says...

03/05/2012 at 15:55

could be a lot of underlying causes, so best for physio to have a look...if the pain is mild, there are calf compression socks out there, which look a bit silly, but apparently work...

03/05/2012 at 17:08

I guess I'm a bit worried, since I have never really had an injury like this before. I don't think it is 'just' a pulled muscle and I'm fearful that I might make it worse...

03/05/2012 at 17:18
Hi Jonathan, Are there any odd symptoms with this? Any pins and needles or numbness? Any redness or noticeable swelling in the calf? My first thought would be a gastrocnemius injury (the most superficial of your calf muscles) this can be very painful and might tighten as you describe as the muscle fatigues. Try testing the muscle's endurance by doing repeated single leg calf raises. Count how many you can do on each leg and note any symptoms. Let me know the result of this and the questions above and I can advise you further. Tom
04/05/2012 at 08:22
sorry jonathan in butting in on your thread!!! tom, I have had a red blotchy area on my lower calf ever since i started running (2 years ish on and off) but its never caused me any pain until recently when i strted regulary running 10k. THe red area can be warm to the touch when i get back too. any ideas?
04/05/2012 at 10:37

Hey Tom. Thanks for your input.

Are there any odd symptoms with this? Not sure what you mean by odd. I guess from my point of view, I think it is strange that, applying pressure to the calf muscle doesnt hurt at all or increase the pain in any way.

Any pins and needles or numbness? A little bit. It's difficult to describe, but my whole left leg kind of feels very slightly numb and I feel random pain along my leg up to my lower back. I've had problems with sciatica in the past, so I barely notice it now.

Any redness or noticeable swelling in the calf? Not that I have noticed.

Try testing the muscle's endurance by doing repeated single leg calf raises. Right leg: Easily managed 30 reps, without any discomfort. Left leg: managed about 20, when it started to get very tight and painful.

@Nazey - not a problem. I hope Tom can help you too.

Edited: 04/05/2012 at 10:39
04/05/2012 at 11:00
Hi Jonathan, Does sound a lot like a calf endurance issue. Maybe the sciatic nerve is a little irritated too, adding to the pain and tightness. Try working on your endurance on days you aren't running. From what you've said I'd start with around 15 Left calf raises, do 3 sets with a rest of around 2 mins between each. Stop before that pain and tightness starts. It should feel tired not painful. After you've done this stretch the calf (do you know the 2 standard stretches, one with knee bent, one straight?) 30 secs 3-5 reps. When you run keep it painfree and keep the stride length a little shorter than usual then stretch after. Let me know how that goes. Once you can do 30 left calf raises pain free let me know and I'll tell you how to progress. Good luck Tom
04/05/2012 at 11:04

Thanks for your help Tom. I will let you know!

04/05/2012 at 11:23
Hi Nazey, Pain, redness and warmth in the calf can be vascular, you have to be a little cautious with that area due to risk of DVT (that's why I asked Jonathan about redness). I would get that checked out by your GP. Tom
04/05/2012 at 11:47

does one of these look like the problem you are getting?

http://www.triggerpoints.net/triggerpoints/glut-min.htm

http://www.triggerpoints.net/triggerpoints/soleus.htm

(red areas show pain, crosses show trigger points)

04/05/2012 at 12:30
eek dvt sounds scary. although it is just a patch about the size of my palm that goes red not the whole lower leg does that make a difference. I didnt mention tje leg that the pain is in the ankle clicks and cracks as I walk. could that be related. im not sure if my general daytime footwear aggrevates it but think thats poss a different post alltogether. it is similar to the bottom one maxs mum that is about the sizebof my warm red patch. gp visit maybe??? or just rest?
04/05/2012 at 12:42

having had a similar problem myself after overuse of barefoot shoes I would recommend trying alternate ice, then heat, find the trigger point and massage regularly (a tennis ball is good) stretch the calf gently on a step several times a day, and maybe give it a weeks rest from running or at least reduce the mileage. Apart from that, give it plenty of time to recover, its not a quick result, so don't overdo it. Took about 6 weeks for mine to recover and i had to go back to normal running shoes and then re-introduce the barefoot shoes slowly!

BUT, of course I am not a professional and so i should say that to take my advice with a pince of salt and that 'other treatments are available'!

04/05/2012 at 16:55
A DVT is unlikely but the problem with these forums is I have no way to examine you so if someone describes symptoms that aren't straight forward to diagnose then I usually say see your GP. It's a safety thing really. Obviously it's up to you, you could try what has been suggested here and see how it goes.
04/05/2012 at 22:34

Thanks Max's mum I do the stretches on a step already but will try massaging.  I hope its not going to be too long as im craving a run already!

Tom, can I make the most of your physio knowledge please... your going to regret ever replying to me! haha...

right where do I start... Ive had a few knocks and bumps over the years from horse riding one fall being quite bad about 2 years ago where my horse fell and rolled over me so this may have left underlying issues.

Ive been running for about 2 years but only upping to 10k and above in the last month or so which has bought this ankle/lower calf issue up.

I had a gait analysis done before I upped my distance and was told that I overpronate quite badly and was advised to get the asics 1160 which I did. I feel supported and comfortable in these. I spend most of my life in wellies and have become aware of my gait in them after being anylised, my feet roll in really badly but its not practical to milk cows in my running shoes!!! I do walk about alot in my wellies. I wonder if this is effecting me or if im just paranoid now.

ontop of this... yes theres more!... myself and my horse saw a oesteopath after our fall and I was told my hips are out but at the time was sceptical that a click crack and crunch could straighten me out. I have been more aware of my stance now and noticed that if i stand with my feet level together or apart facing forward my right leg (the one thats hurting) bows out and bends backwards more. and when looking in a mirror i do appear to stand with my hips slightly twisted.

So my questions are... Should I see a phsio, oesteopath, orthotic specialist, podiatrist. Or is there a all in ony type person who could straighten out my OCD if nothing else!

And would I benefit from insoles in my wellies.

Many thanks

 

04/05/2012 at 23:03
Nazey,
The thing about overpronation is that it's talked about by many people as a dangerous, damaging foot condition. It isn't. There is a school of thought that says it's all part of normal variation and that your body will be used to that foot position and manage just fine. Your body can adapt very well to stress and load, providing it's not increased too quickly.
So unless you get pain walking in your wellies that is alleviated by supported shoes then I wouldn't worry. Stick with them. If you find they cause you pain but supportive shoes don't then you could look into wellies with more of an arch support (I had a look on google there do seem to be some available online).
04/05/2012 at 23:15
With your hips or back being out of alignment, this isn't a theory that most physios really agree with. The idea that you can be clicked back into alignment doesn't make sense to me. You can have postural changes, but joints don't just pop out of alignment a system of ligaments stop that happening. I'm sure an osteo or Chiro would have a different view.
So I'd say the question is does your posture cause you problems? Do you get back or hip pain? If so I would see a Physio they should be capable of addressing that. If you think you have a slightly uneven posture but no pain or problems then I would say that's quite normal. Very few people have "ideal" posture and most people are asymmetrical that's also normal. We tend to be dominant with one hand and that affects our posture. Most people also have a small leg length difference, again quite normal. You only need to get it checked out if it's causing you problems.
Considering you're recently upped your mileage I'd say it's more likely that that would cause new pains than overpronation (which you will have always had) or your posture.
Hope that makes sense!
Tom
16/05/2012 at 15:23

@Tom Goom - Right, I've been a bit busy recently, so haven't been able to post in here until now.

I have completed a couple of short runs in the last 10 days, which were fine and yesterday I managed a 10 mile run. Admittedly, I noticed the calf tighten again after about 6-7 miles, but I managed to get through it without too much discomfort. I've been trying to stretch both calves as much as possible and have started the calf raises. I read up on calf endurance and feel that you may have hit the nail on the head.

I think I will take it easy and just try and strech as much as I can. Let's hope it will improve.

Thanks for your help.

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