Tight calves are bound to happen when the purpose of the calf muscle is to point your toes, which is also known as plantar flexion. When you run a lot, it means you repeatedly are pushing off of the ground by pointing your toes. Every time the calf muscle becomes tired and overworked due to not be able to handle the stresses placed through the lower leg, the calf muscle develops micro-tears, and trigger points that make the calf feel tight. When the calves get tight, they put extra strain on the hamstrings, Achilles tendon, plantar fascia and can also lead to shin splints. It is essential that you address tight calves as soon as possible.
Causes of Tight Calves
- Incorrect running form
- Too much calf strengthening/ Weak Calves
- Lack of treatment on calves
- Wrong footwear
- Running on Hard Surfaces
As mentioned above, the realities of the running mean that your calves are going to have to absorb a lot of force continually. Regardless o this fact, there are things that you can do to help alleviate the stress put on your lower legs.
Correct form to Improve Tight Calves
The first thing you can do is running with proper way. If you are going for long runs and you run too much on the ball of your feet, it adds stress to your calves. This is a problem commonly seen in faster athletes like sprinters. When jogging, the tendency is to be more on the toes than needed.
Don’t Overwork Calves to Improve Tight Calves
If you have weak calves, they will develop more trigger points at a faster pace. To fight this a lot of people will start doing a lot of calve raises. Now, this is not wrong, but it just must be done in moderation. It is not a good idea to do calve raises and then goes for a run that day or the next. Your calves will go into the run already tired and overworked. You need to find a healthy balance between working your calves and not doing too much.
Increase Treatment Load on Calves
You can’t expect to run for many miles every day and not have to do any maintenance work to take care of your calves. If you increase a load of treatment you do for yourself, with a foam roller and from a professional, you will see your tightness decrease.
Run in The Right Shoes to Improve Tight Calves
If you just run any old shoes, you will not succeed in making your calves better. When you run in the wrong shoes, it forces your lower legs to have to work hard to make up for what the shoes are doing wrong. Keep in mind that some people have wide feet, skinny feet, long toes, short toes, high arches and low arches and all of these different changes how the foot interacts with the shoe and the ground. Each of those changes creates numerous other changes through the body.
Run on Softer Surfaces
The go-to for most runners is to just run on the street. It is easy because you can leave your house and go. You will save your body a lot of stress and pain by running on the grass some days. It will never be as exciting, but your body and joints will thank you. The softer the surface, the more force the surface absorbs.
Ways to Treat Tight Calves Muscles
The main areas of the body that you need to attack for treatment are the following:
- Posterior Tibialis
- Anterior Tibialis
- Bottoms of feet
Self Massage for Tight Calves
Self-massage will never replace getting treatment from a professional, but it and foam rolling serve two major purposes. The first is helping you to understand your body better and what it needs to be healthy. The second is maintenance to hold you over between treatments. You may only see your sports medicine provider once a week, but you train every day. You need to make sure that you don’t get hurt between treatments, so you use self-massage.
The Keys to Success with Self-massage for Tight Calves
- The goal is not to press as hard as possible
- When you find a tender spot hold that spot for a few seconds
- Breathe deep and get yourself to relax to help release trigger points
- Use lotion or some form of oil to help with massage lubrication
- Make sure you stay hydrated because massages are more effective when you are
Foam Rolling for Tight Calves
Another way to work on your tight calves is by properly foam rolling the muscles of your lower leg. The difference between self-massage and foam rolling is personally. You may like one or the other better, and that is fine. The point here is that there is no excuse not to treat you after every single run. The videos below are examples of all that you can do.
Treatment from Healthcare Provider for Tight Calves
A professional is going to be able to use a variety of treatment skills to help relieve your calves of tension. There is no better way to relieve tight calve muscles than in the hands of a skilled sports medicine provider.
Examples of Skills Providers Can Use to Help Tight Calve Muscles After Running
- Graston Technique
- Active Release
- Ankle Adjusting
- Joint mobilization
- Dry needling
- Gait analysis
- And much more
The key has a healthcare provider that understands your timeline as an athlete. Some of these treatments are very aggressive and may need a few days of recovery to come back form. If you race coming up in a few days that may not work. A great healthcare provider will be able to put together a game plan to help you succeed in the short term and long run.
How Do You Find a Provider to Help With Tight Calves
Kho Health is your one-stop shop for finding sports medicine providers. Join the community and engage with the best sports medicine providers in your community and nation. If you know what you are looking for in a healthcare provider, you can use the Kho Health search feature to find the best local providers and compare by Kho Number.
If you do not know what you are looking for, our technology will help you to figure out what the best healthcare provider is for your situation. No more stressing about when the right time to see a massage therapist is compared to acupuncturists. The goal is to make sure that you can get to the best people in your area with a little search time as possible to get rid of your tight calves.