Overview Of The Calf Muscles
Your calf muscles belong to a group of two muscles situated in the back of your lower leg. Commonly, calf muscle tightness is a complaint among athletes, especially runners.
When you run regularly, chances are you are causing too much tearing or straining in these muscles. Thus, it creates a discomfort which is usually in a moderate range.
You may experience tight calves if you suddenly increase the distance, duration, or the intensity of your workouts or runs. But, how do we relieve tight calves while running? What causes tightness in these muscles?
Causes Of Tight Calves
If you ever have experienced tightness in your calf muscles after running, you exactly know how painful it could get. There are a lot of causes for tight calves during running.
By knowing these common causes, you may quickly know the source of the problem and how to deal with it:
Inappropriate Running Shoes
The most typical cause of tight calves links to muscle support when you are running. You see, in most cases, you may not know it, but your shoes play important roles as you sprint.
Thus, when you are wearing shoes that don’t fit you properly, it may lower down your foot support.
Moreover, when your running shoes are not helping you relax your muscles during running, then it may cause muscle tightening. It may also shorten your calf muscles that can lead to tightening over time.
Imbalance in Your Muscle Groups
Your calf region composes the gastrocnemius, plantar, and soleus muscles. These muscles function oppositely with the tibialis muscle groups. If you overtrain one or more of these muscles, they may cause weakness in one muscle to another.
Thus, it will now lead to an imbalance of the muscles, which later on, turns to muscle pain. Additionally, when you overdevelop and overtrain your muscles, it will not fit into its tissue sheath.
Frequently, this causes too much pressure in your calf. Then, it calf tightness and pain. It is commonly known as the Compartment Syndrome.
Issues In the Biochemical Factor Of Your Foot
Problems with the biochemical aspect of your foot can also heighten the strain and tightness on your calf muscles. However, it may be identified through a gait assessment or analysis on treadmills.
Skipping Your Warm-up And Stretching Pre And Post Training
Because you skip on your warm-up and stretching before and after your runs, your calf muscles may suffer. It causes gradual tightening in your calves. In fact, it causes little tears in your muscles that could lead to muscle spasm.
When your muscles are too contracted, your blood cannot easily flow throughout your calf muscles. Then, the muscles may have the tendency to squeeze the blood out.
If these muscles lack enough blood, their nutrients will deplete. Thus, the muscles tighten up so they can protect themselves and they start to weaken.
Your proper running form is very vital. How you run should also be considered. Most of the time, you don’t think of your good form. You just think about moving fast.
However, your running form when running affects your muscles. When you have a bad running style, this often leads to a tight calf and could even lead to calf pain.
IDENTIFYING CALF TIGHTNESS
It may tend to identify quickly if or if not you are suffering from calf muscle tightness. However, this is not the case all of the time because it may be the primary cause of lower leg problems. Thus, here are its obvious symptoms:
11 TIPS TO QUICKLY RELIEVE TIGHT CALVES
#1 Massaging Your Calf Muscles
Doing a deep tissue massage can directly provide relief in calf tightness during or after running. For a more relaxing and lighter massage, you can also do a remedial massage.
However, both of these forms of massage can help blood circulation in this region. They are effective ways to relax your calves.
# 2 Using Foam Rollers
Do you have a small foam roller at home? This foam roller looks very similar to your yoga roll. What you have to do is to put the foam roller on a flat surface and try to move your leg over the roller.
Place some focus on your calf muscles. The motion can alleviate the constriction of your calves. Thus, it loosens up the calf muscles.
#3 Performing Your Stretching In the Proper Way
- To accurately stretch your calves, try to brace your hands on a flat wall.
- Next, you need to extend your legs one at a time as far as possible.
- You should maintain your heel flat on the floor. You should retain this position for a moment.
- Then, relax and repeat the steps again.
Stretching is very vital before and after doing your warm-up. Thus, you need to follow these steps to perform your stretching properly:
#4 Executing Step Drops
By doing your drops, you may relieve the tension on your calf muscles. Here’s how you can perform step drops:
- Position yourself with the sole of your feet placed at the tip of your step. Keep your heels hanging.
- Then, allow your heel to drop underneath the step. Hold this position for a few seconds.
- The movement will slowly stretch all of your calf muscles.
- Remember not to bounce as you perform the motion because you want to stretch the muscles properly.
#5 Doing Pull Back Exercises
Pull Backs are efficient to stretch your calf muscles, especially your gastrocnemius. What you need to execute this exercise is a resistance band. So, here’s how you should perform this workout:
- Take your seat on the ground. Let your legs straightly aligned in front of you. Ensure that your back is also straight.
- Place the loop of your resistance band around the sole of your foot.
- Then, try to flex your foot back going towards you.
- As you feel the pull on your muscles, hold the position for at least 30 seconds.
- After that, you may release it. Then, repeat.
#6 Doing Standing Calf Raises
- Stand still. Allow your feet to be positioned shoulder-width apart.
- Properly hold the back of a chair.
- Gently raise yourself. Put emphasis on the soles of your feet. Your heels should lift off the floor. Try to retain this position for a moment.
- Then, gently lower down your heels back to the floor. Repeat the steps as you can.
#7 Stretching Your Achilles Tendon
When you extend your Achilles tendon, which connects your calf and your heel, it alleviates tightness in your calves. To perform the stretching, you need to follow these steps:
- Try sitting on the ground and place your left leg straight.
- Try to bend your right leg.
- Then, start descending your right heel going to your buttocks as you can.
- Gently drag the apex of your feet going towards your body. However, you must keep your heel still on the floor.
- Maintain this position for at least five seconds or more.
- Lastly, you need to relax, and you may repeat as you can for each of your heels.
#8 Maintaining Your Balance When Standing Up
Your calves portray a vital role in your ability to stand straight. In turn, to alleviate the tightening of your calf muscles, you need to maintain the balance all throughout your body, especially when standing up.
In turn, when you maintain your balance, your brain triggers your muscles and other structures surrounding your muscles to loosen the tight calves.
#9 Soaking Your Calves In Warm Water
#10 Applying A Heating Pad Into The Affected Calf Muscles
Before you put the heat pad into the affected part, make sure that you cover it with a cloth or any protective material from heat. It will make sure that you will not burn your skin.
Allow the heat pad to set at a low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes. If you still feel some tightness, try to apply the heating pad for a few more minutes.
#11 Following Some Suggestion To Avoid Tight Calves.
Doing Stretches and Warm-ups are Crucial
To avoid causing harm to your calves, you need to make sure that you are doing your stretches and warm-ups that define your calves. These stretches and warm-ups include:
- Ankle rolls
- Ankle flexes
- Calf raises
Remember that these warm-ups and stretches will make sure that you boost your flexibility. As you start running, you should also ensure your proper running form and the appropriate footwear you are using is in excellent condition.
Follow a Proper Diet
By following your runner’s diet, composed of a balanced diet that is high in protein, you can improve your muscle function.
You should also make sure that you drink enough water all throughout your runs. Keeping yourself hydrated will prevent tight muscles and potential injuries.
If you are experiencing tight calves, they may not perform their function during your sprints. And if your calf muscles cannot perform efficiently, your other muscle groups and joints have to work harder just to compensate.
That way, it may add further injury. Thus, as early as possible you need to prevent calf muscle tightness by following the beneficial tips on avoiding this potential problem to occur.
You must also know what causes tight calves, how to identify calf muscle tightness, and most importantly, how to relieve tight calves quickly.
If ever you feel that you need more information, tips, ideas, and advice on the topic above, you may head to our website. Then, you may try to leave some comments, questions, and suggestions!