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Calf Tightness from Running

Tight calf muscles are a common problem for runners. They can occur naturally as your body responds to the stress placed on the muscles (known as the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) while running. The most common symptoms of tight calf muscles are pain, spasms, or a "pulling" sensation when you point or flex the foot.


Running is a high-impact activity that places repetitive stress on the calf muscles. Calf tightness can vary from one person to the next. Most people will experience tightness before a run which eases as they begin to hit their stride.


Other runners will experience tightness while running. For this group, the problem often stems from biomechanical problems in which the foot strikes the ground unevenly and places excessive stress on the calf muscles.


Tight calf muscles may lead to overpronation in which the heel rolls inward as you take a step. A poor shoe fit and/or an improperly supported foot arch can also do the same. The problem can be further exacerbated by dehydration. The rapid loss of salt through sweat can trigger muscle cramps in the lower extremities, most especially the feet and calves. Proper hydration before, during, and after a run can help prevent this.


Never rush a stretch. Stretch slowly and hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.

Do not stretch through pain. If you feel pain during any part of a stretch, ease back and maintain gentle pressure until the muscle relaxes on its own. If the pain persists, stop.

Always stretch both sides. This ensures your gait is balanced.

Never bounce when stretching. Doing so will increase your risk of a strain or rupture.

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