What Causes Sore Calves from Running & How to Treat Them
Running, an exercise that’s not only great for our health, but also a fun and invigorating activity that many yearn for. But unfortunately, the fun of running does come with its drawbacks. The biggest of those is the soreness in your calves after you’re done running. So in this article, we explain why this happens, and how to overcome it so you can get back to running again!
What Are They And How Do You Get Sore Calves From Running
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
The main reason for sore calves from running is due to delayed onset muscle soreness. This soreness in the muscles also comes in different forms, from pain and soreness to having tight calves that are hard to move. DOMS is not a reason for alarm though, as it is a normal response as a result of moderate to intense running and training.
How does DOMS occur after running? After long or intense running sessions, the contraction of the muscle fibres in the calf muscles experience micro tears. These micro tears then lead to an inflammation response that sends more blood and nutrients for the muscle fibres to repair themselves. And it’s in this inflammation response that causes the sore calves after running.
DOMS most commonly occurs when a person has not done a certain exercise before, or they have taken a long break from it. With the muscles not used to the movement and repeated contractions, they are more likely to become sore afterwards.
For the ambitious runner, aggressive progression in distance and intensity of running sessions are tempting. But we recommend against this, as this will prevent your muscles from adapting properly and thus cause sore calves after running. Similarly, improper recovery is another big factor, as muscles need time to recover between running days.
Many people also run with a heel strike, landing on the heel of the foot first. This causes excessive calf strain, leading to more soreness after you finish running. And sticking with your feet, shoes that have a poor fit or poor design also contribute sore calves as they can’t give you the right amount of support.
Preventing Sore Calves From Running
Warm Up Stretching
Stretching is an essential part of prep when it comes to running. Stretching prevents calf pain by easing it into the tension and force it will experience during running. Without stretching, your muscles have less range of motion and come under more strain during running, leading to more soreness afterwards.
The stretching of the muscles also increases blood flow into the area, providing the muscle fibres with nutrients and hydration. You are also releasing any pre existing muscle tension in your calves, again helping to prepare them for the stress of running. And not only will your calves feel less sore after running, but they’ll also be less prone to injury.
We recommend a warm up stretch routine of dynamic stretches, as they optimise the amount of stretch and blood flow the muscles experience. This includes a mix of leg swings and walking lunges that stretch your calf without straining or stressing it.
Another great way to prevent sore calves from running is by practising the correct technique. A major key to this is by landing on either the forefoot or midfoot rather than the heel. This distributes the shock more effectively, reducing possible calf pain and injury. And maintaining a relaxed and comfortable stride where your legs are not overstretched also prevents excess stress in your calf muscles.
One big mistake that many people make that lead to sore calves from running is by advancing too quickly with their running. As with all exercise and training, intensity and intensity must be increased gradually. This allows your calf muscles to adapt and strengthen in a way that prevents strain and soreness from happening. Being too aggressive with your running progression also puts you at risk of injuries which force you to take a break and recover.
Running in shoes that are made for running and have a correct fit for your feet. This is important as correct fitting running shoes give your feet and body the support they need, reducing muscle strain in the process. It’s also important to replace worn out shoes, as they can’t perform and support your body and body weight as intended. An easy solution to find the right shoes is to visit an Athlete’s Foot store and get your feet analysed with their free 3D scanner.
Recovery From The Soreness
An excellent way to relieve sore calves from running is to get a massage. Whether that be by visiting a massage therapist or with a massage chair, massaging the sore calf muscles releases tension and inflammation. Frequent visits to a massage therapist is expensive, so we recommend investing into a massage chair as a more efficient option. And not only will it relieve your muscle pain, but there’s also a long list of other benefits that massages give you, including improving your sleep!
Cool Down Stretching
Stretching after a run helps your muscles recover by relaxing them and releasing any tightness created from the run. This stretching further helps your body to remove lactic acid which builds up in your muscles during exercise. Left alone, the excess amounts of lactic acid in the calf muscles cause it to be more sore afterwards.
To stretch your calves after a run, we recommend doing some heel calf drops. Even one set is enough, holding the heel drop for 30 seconds on each side and gradually increasing to 60 seconds per side over time. And not only does this calf stretch help it to recover, but it also helps you to prevent shin splints, which is shin pain in muscles and bone in the shin area.
There’s a number of things that help relieve your sore calves from running. Taking rest days after a run is the most effective, allowing your body to recover and adapt to the stress. For more pain relief, use ice packs or compresses on the calf for 15-20 minutes multiple times a day. Foam rolling is another great way to relieve soreness, alleviating tension and inflammation in soft tissue and muscle fibres.
Don’t Let Sore Calves Prevent You From Running
Don’t let sore calves stop you from enjoying running. Understanding why you get sore calves from running is important knowing how to prevent them and the recovery techniques you use to relieve the pain. To get the best relief from your sore calves from running, we recommend choosing a quality massage chair from our full body range. Discover ultimate comfort and relief by shopping today!