It's pretty standard to get tight calves running. Whether it's how you run or what shoes you're wearing, calf tightness during running and calf tightness after running can be fixed. Here are a few tips and tricks to reduce the tightness in your calves.
What are the calf muscles?
The calf muscle group consists of the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles. The gastrocnemius is the larger muscle which originates just above the back of the knee and attaches via the Achilles tendon to the back of the heel. Meanwhile, the soleus muscle is far deeper and originates from below the knee attaching through the Achilles tendon as well into the back of the heel.
The Running Stretch
This stretch should be easy for anyone to do.
- Face a wall and stand 30-40cm away from it;
- Extend one leg behind you, keeping both feet flat on the floor and your rear knee straight;
- Lean toward the wall until you feel the tension in the calf muscle of the extended leg
- Hold for 30-60 seconds
- Repeat with the other leg
You should only feel a slight pull. If sharp pain appears, stop immediately and consult a physician.
Originally for plantar fasciitis, a night splint stretches the muscle overnight. They aren't incredibly comfortable and compliance can be very low; however, they have been shown to be effective for those who push through the comfort barrier.
Sports massage with an accredited therapist can help relax tight muscles, improve flexibility and the overall condition of a muscle. The aim of sports massage is to release tension in the muscle and stimulate blood flow and healing.
Unfortunately, it can be a bit pricey ($60 - $70 per hour, once or twice per week) so is reserved to the few of us who can afford it!
The Solushin, while shown in a clinical setting to treat shin splints, has also been shown to reduce tension in the calf muscles. Rather than stretching your calf muscles like a night splint, the Solushin targets areas of high tension in the calf using soft-tissue therapy techniques.
Easy to use and the price of two massage appointments, it's definitely our (shameless) recommendation for those of you who need a year-round fix.