How to Fix the Calf Strain That Keeps Coming Back


Have you experienced nagging calf pain that just doesn’t go away. Maybe even after months of resting and stretching.

You are not alone! We see this all the time with runners in our clinic.

They come in, after being avid runners for years, then all of a sudden a calf pain comes out of nowhere.  It might stop after the run, but keeps popping up days, weeks, or even months later.  It never really goes away for good.

Is this normal?

Calf cramps, strains, and pains are so common in runners, they are almost talked about like they are “normal”.  Most people don’t think anything will really help (and most aren’t interested in the muscle relaxers or pain pills).

The choices runners are left with are . . . Run through the pain and risk further injury or quit running altogether.

What to do with a muscle tear?

If you come to us reporting severe pain, like you’ve been “shot” in the back of the leg, it’s likely you actually have a calf muscle tear.  You usually get little warning and it happens as a result of being overly tired, dehydrated, or running a lot of hills.

However, the root cause is usually chronic tightness in the Achilles’ tendon pulling on the muscle.  Get that tightness sorted out early and you can avoid the calf tear all together.

If you do find yourself with a tear, it is time to take a few rest days. Start with ice and add gentle massage after a few days.  After 7-10 days gentle stretching begins, followed by strengthening after at least 2 weeks.

For fastest healing, shortest downtime, and least likelihood of a recurring injury work through this protocol with a sports rehab specialists.  You can start a conversation by clicking HERE.

What if I think it’s a “muscle strain”?

Now, if your injury is not a severe tear. . . An ache, tightness, throbbing, maybe still sharp but not sudden . . . What are you to do?

Don’t quit running!! Your heart and lung health, mental clarity, mood, and weight management depend on it.

Most often it’s an easy fix.  It could be your favorite running shoes.  Like many runners, you’ve likely put in hundreds of miles wearing the same pair of shoes.  Or perhaps, the new running shoes you just bought aren’t the right ones for your feet.

Getting a prescription orthotic may be the answer to your calf tightness. They’re designed to control alignment and function of your feet in order to treat and prevent injuries. When you wear them while running, your feet are stable and supported so they never roll inwards or outwards, meaning less risk of triggering an injury!

What if I changed shoes, stretched, iced, rested and still NO progress?

You may have “phantom” calf pain.

In this case, the problem is NOT the calf or even hamstring that the runner thinks.  It’s actually a problem with the lower back. Something is trapping a nerve, which sends painful signals to the calf or hamstring muscle and causes it to tighten or cramp.

When the runner stops… the painful signals often stop too.  But, the problem keeps coming back.  It’s a HUGE signal that the runners low back is weak.  This means too much stress is put on the spine, causing squashed discs and pinched nerves.  Pain signals then fly down the leg and into the calf.

The ONLY solution to “phantom” calf pain is to work on the lower back. If you think this sounds like you, then let’s talk about it.  Arrange a FREE call with a Sports Injury Specialist.  Fill out a short form HERE and we will block out some time to talk with you.

We will stop your worries that this problem won’t ever go away, and tell you exactly what we do with so many runners with calf pain to keep it from happening again.