this fixed it for me.
been there before,
this spring my legs were all screwed up with what the doctors think was compartment syndrome. i've barely run in the past 3 months now but i am starting to get back into it but if the pain comes back i guess i will get the surgery. i was just wondering is it pretty simple surgery? and could you start training ok pretty soon after the surgery?
I've had the tight calves before to the point of not being able to run for long periods then found the remedies on my own.
Basically the tight calves are caused by the calves being too tight (obviously) and too strong compared to the balancing muscles in the front of the legs. So avoid doing anything like calf raises etc as that would most certainly make the problems much worse. On the other hand, ice, rolling a stick or bottle on your calves, and using fresh ginger root to get rid of inflammation are all helpful.
Four things you can do are as follows:
1) Always run with a quick brisk stride, and avoid trying to push hard off your toes. A quick stride is better anyway so embrace it.
2) Do astanga yoga sun salutations religiously, at least 10 minutes before running and at least 10 minutes at night. If you do them again after running, all the better.
3) Heel walks. Hold on to a counter or chair while standing on your heels, then repeatedly lift your knees high in the air while keeping your heels pointed down and your toes pointed up the whole time. Stay on your heels the whole time for this exercise and do not let the balls of your feet touch the floor. Your tibialis anterior muscles will burn with this exercise which is good as this helps to balance your legs. Start moderately with maybe 20 a number of times each day to doing 100 of them two or three times a day.
4) Bobbing in place. Get a timer and see how many times you can lift your feet alternatively a couple of inches off the floor in one minute. Aim for at least 200+ times in a minute. The more the better. You are moving your feet and legs fast with this exercise, but you are not using your calves as you are not pushing off and are keeping your feet close to the ground. Take a minute break to walk around then repeat two more times. Repeat this every morning before running. This exercise will also work the muscles in the front of your legs and will help to balance them with the back. This one is my favorite and gets you prepared for utilizing a quick stride when you run.
Let me know how these work for you.
Sounds like most of the posters here r probably suffering from the classic overuse problem of RUNNING IN THE SAME DIRECTION EITHER ON TRACK AND/OR ANY OTHER SURFACES when u train.
I've seen too many of such calf/achilles/ankle problems for the past 15 yrs, and myself was a frequent sufferer.
Maybe u guys can ask yrself this question:
AM I ALWAYS MAKING LEFT TURNS WHEN DOING TRACK WORK OR RUNNING LOOPS OR WARMING UP?
For those of u who have the problem in your left calf, I'd say u will most probably have answered "yes."
Don't waste any more time and money seeing doctors. You r just trying to fix the SYMPTOM (ie the injury), rather than find the CAUSE (what have u been doing or am still doing currently, that caused the problem in the first place).
No point going to the doctors day in day out and doing the prescribed exercises; no point resting for weeks/months/years only to return to running doing EXACTLY THE ACTIVITY THAT HURT YOUR CALF in the first place!
But as it stands today, I've encountered far too many runners (esp teens) who will never change their direction of track/road/grass/trail/dirt loops running even if u put a loaded gun to their heads. Meanwhile, their 'strange' injury continues to plague and frustrate them for years, eventually turning them away fr the sport.
If u continually train running counterclockwise on the track, whether it be fast or slow runs, u r asking for trouble.
Over time, your pelvis tilts to the left to facilitate the inward lean we make when we negotiate the curves. Blood flow gradually lessens in the left (inner)leg compared to the right (outer)because of the compression fr yr pelvic bone onto the gluteal,hamstring, quadricep, shin, calf muscle groups. The sciatic nerve that runs fr yr neck down your spinal cord,then to yr glutes-hams-calf-achilles, becomes severely compressed over time and as a result, yr mental signals to these muscle will be SLOWER or even PARTIALLY CUT OFF!
Yr muscles will also experience distrophy on the afficted side. As a consequence, when u try to push off while running strght forward, the inner leg will respond haphazardly bec it has LESS STRENGTH and RECEIVES THE SIGNAL FR THE BRAIN FAR LATER THAN THE RIGHT LEG. Sometimes it receives the signals only faintly and so reacts differently.
Also, by choosing to only make left turns, u r actually teaching yr body to expect left turns for every 100m of strght running. Actually, in very severe cases, even when the runner is on the strghts of the track, he/she may still be tilting to the left, and as this is soon followed by another left-turning curve, the runner hardly notices that thy r ALWAYS COMPENSATING FROM THE LEFT LEG when they run the straights!
All the above results in a shortened left leg because yr left hip is forced to tilt inward and upwards, and if u never turn right, it soon stays in that position as its NORMAL POSITION!
Imagine what happens when u try to run when yr left calf is:
3) reacts slower than yr right
4) Receives less blood and so HEALS MUCH MORE SLOWLY THAN YR RIGHT CALF after workouts
The exertion of the leg pushoff fr the grd will cause the shortened calf to suddenly overstretch and as there is little blood to respond to the body's demands, the muscle will spasm. In severe cases it will tear.
Just try pulling a shorter rubber band with both hands in opposite directions explosively. Try again w a longer and more flexible one.
U get what I mean?
I've seen far too many people waste their time and money and emotional energy trying to get rid of the symptoms and ed up with half-cures and no-cures.
I know this sounds relatively TOO SIMPLE. But the CAUSE IS SIMPLE AND THEREFORE SO IS THE CURE! Trust me it works. It will take time and some common sense, but it will work. Just do SOME (NOT ALL) of yr training running right turns (don't phase out left turns completely or you'll end up having similar problems on yr right!) and give it time.
This problem just requires this simple measure and u will be ok.
Yes, u still need to stretch. U still need to strength train. U stil need to rest. Some medical advice might still be required.
But fr my personal expce with more than a dozen cases, all the runner needs to do is to change her/his compulsion to make only left turns at all costs and their problems r solved.
In fact fr my experience in coaching and in competing, I would say that a large majority of the problems trackers expce come fr track work. Even doing less won't help unless u balance betw left/right turns.
The solution sounds so simple that many people disbelieve me. They seem to find a psychological comfort in making only left turns and feel 'weird' running clockwise. Well, if that holds true for any of u, I can understand bec I'm also an avid tracker myself and often feel that way.
But if feeling 'weird' can cure yr spastic calf, why not?
Dude, you just described the last seven years of my life. I go about 4-5 months between calf "explosions" - all out cramp, burn, seizure type things. I, too, can't walk for a week or so after these. I typically take a month or so off from running, try to start back up again, and it happens all over again in a few months.
My right (bad) calf is now a tad bigger than the left. I had an MRI - nothing there but some old scar tissue. I feel for ya. I blame this calf thing for me not be able to get back into any kind of decent shape. I'm now 35, 20 lbs over my "fightin" weight, and stuck in a cycle I can't get out of.
If you figure it out, let me know. (Maybe I need to read the rest of the thread first.).
Anyway, I know how you feel.
This may be the reason for some people that get these calf injuries but definetely not me. Here is my story. Maybe some of you can relate.
At 40 years old, after about 15 years of non-running, I decided to fire the engines back up. I started off small (4 miles every other day)and eventually worked up to about 50-55 MPW. Over the past 3 years of my "come-back" I have had this calf injury about 15 times. Sometimes on the left calf, other times on the right. (I think this blows-out the above poster's theory about running in the same direction) By the way, each time I get one of these calf strains I am off about 2-6 weeks.
In the begining, I got these while just doing 20 MPW of easy running. Eventually after a year or so, and several of these injuries, I was able to bulid up my mileage to 40-50 MPW before blowing one out. Now it seems I get these calf injuries when I am either doing over 50 MPW OR am putting in some hard efforts during the week (i.e. a 10-15 long run at a hard effort, 1 day of intervals, and a 7 mile tempo run) Sadly, it always seems to occur when I feel like I am just starting to get in great aerobic shape.
I have tried calf raises to strengthen my calfs, heel inserts, orthotics, extensive stretches, icing, and other stuff to no avail. I believe that the reason for these injuries is simply that my muscles do not recover as fast as they used to. Fortunetely, I am able to handle more miles than before but it seems that I have hit my limit. Calf raises seem redundant since running would seem to be a great way to strengthen my calfs. If anything, I feel I should NOT do them so that I can give my calfs every possible minute to recover between runs. Seems logical, right ?
My only solution at this point is to cross-train a couple times a week instead of run. At this point this seems to be my best option unless someone has any better ideas ??
I am mid 40's and have been dealing with this now for about 4-5 years. My last decent races were in 2007 when I decided to take time off and re-group. Didn't really work and I floundered for another year. This year after a month off, I started slowly and more carefully and incorporated some more stretching (which sounds as though it may not be a good idea) and massaging (probably not enough). I am going to incorporate some more of the stuff posted here. Can't believe there isn't more info out there, I also don't know many of my running friends who have dealt with this yet.
The "Powerstep" inserts definitely had a positive and almost immediate effect on both a nagging Plantar Fasciatis condition and the calves. What seems to be the biggest problem is when I do speedwork when I get close to mile-5K pace, but I have had calf blow-ups at any speed, it is fragile.
I got all the way through a race in May and it blew up right at the finish; suddently changing pace either faster or slower, seems to trigger it too from the earliest days. June was pretty miserable and now I am back to 50 miles a week and racing at a slower pace, but I am dying to build my speed back in August and hope to do it pain free.
Hoping others see this and add other remedies, since I don't want to get any surgery; there has to be some preventive stuff along with the remedies.
I am also interested if someone might have a shoe recommendations, I have been using Adidas SuperNova Cushion for couple years and various flats for race/track.
It's amazing how common this injury is. The first thing I have learned is to stop and walk at the first sign of pain in your calf. This alone will save you weeks of recovery. I have also had success with stretching the tibialis anterior muscles on the front of your shin. Doing the alphabet with your feet also has helped me.
Great advice. Great thread, I cant believe this thread is here. I am currently in the middle of one of these episodes with my calf. It started twinging last week and I tried to ignor it and now I havent run since... with no end in sight. Shit, I can barely walk on it. Like many of you, it is happening on different calves at different times. I am just thankful I am not racing anymore but I am trying to keep off weight and stay healthy. Its not working, I am 30lbs overweight.
No advice for getting over it. I have no idea. I stretch it happens, I dont stretch it happens, I run on the trails in happens, etc.
|Poster Formerly Known asGoober|
Could those who have had the compartment syndrome surgery go into that more? Simple procedure? How was the recovery? Is there anyone who has had the surgery and did not recover?
I may have posted earlier in this thread but have been dealing with this for the past 4 years. For immediate relief, google "calf heart attack" and get The Stick. I prefer the travel version.
Longer term, in my case this was due to some basic weaknesses in my core muscles as well as my ankles. What seems to have it under control is daily work primarily on the core--I do a short routine based on http://www.smiweb.org and/or Jay Johnson's "lunge matrix" (look on the Running Times website), plus pushups and crunches. When I have a new flare-up now I take a day off, use the Stick 4-5x/day, do my exercises and wear compression sox--either oxysox or calfskins by defeet for a few days. I'm only up to 20-25 mpw, but feel like I'm starting to get some strength back.
I ran on my spasming/pulled/whatever very sore calf for 5 miles and limped through it and it was very painful. Now my whole calf is swollen! My ankle is swollen too, looks like a sprained ankle. WTF? kind of scary? What did I do? Is this compartments? Has anybody else run on the calf while it was sore and had a similar result?
went to the doc: said it is a torn soleus muscle. No blood clot. Getting an MRI to confirm the soleus diagnosis.
Anybody else run on the cronic spasm/strain injury while it was effed up? results? I dont recommend it, very painful and now my leg looks like I have cankles and a fat calf, plus my back hurts cause I limped for 5 miles.
If your calf is sore and you run on it, sometimes it makes your ankle really sore as well (I guess due to the instability that your ankle has to try extra hard to hold up?). As most people have mentioned, the first thing to do is if you feel pain, walk on it, maybe not the whole way back but don't continue running on it. Better to be safe for a week then have 3+ months of rehab.
I have been battling heart attack calves for the last 7 years. This advice was posted many times - when it happens - stop. Walk. You cannot run it out, walk forwards or backwards, to get it to release. You are going to be off for 7-14 days ... period.
It happens in either calf, hot or cold weather, running fast or running slow. No rhyme or reason. Soooo frustrating. Then you get passed on the path by someone running 10 minute miles, and you feel even worse.
I agree with deep tissue massage. I have had my thearapist from 1990-1997 (flew him to Barcelona in '92 and Atlanta '96) work on me a few times in the last month - extremly painful. My soon to be freshmen in college came in a week ago, and asked if it hurt as I was having a hard time to stay on the table: "Go watch TV in the other room!" Kevin said that quads are part of the reason, as when they are tight, it restricts movement and causes the pelvis to tilt forward. This cause more strain on the calf muscles. He has me doing core excercises, but my quads are very sore. Run your fingers over the outside of your quads, and dig in and see if they are sore. Have someone check you pelvic tilt.
The stick helps, as well as heating before running. But have to admit at age 49, I get lazy. I like to think about the days I ran fast, or even long runs at 6:50 pace (yes, just under 7 m's), and how easy they were.
To repress the agression - ride the bike. I have been putting in about 70-90 miles a week this summer, and as my son said, you can "poon noobs" when you can get the cadence down. Get a Garmin, and your brain will lock into the time, distance, and speed per mile. Or, a Polar heart montior, and let the pulse be your friend. It does help, and you get to see more of the area.