Calf Injuries

Sep 19, 2022

The Cardiff half marathon is fast approaching… and as your training intensity increases over the coming months, injuries are likely to occur.

Muscle strains make up a high proportion of injuries in runners (70%), with up to 20% of those involving the calf.

What is the calf?

Your ‘calf’ is made up of two muscles – the gastrocnemius and soleus. They blend to form the Achilles Tendon which attaches to your heel bone.

Problems with your calf can contribute to achilles or plantar fascia pain, so it is very important to seek help early.

Why is Calf pain so common?

It is such an important muscle for propulsion and gets through an awful lot of work during running.

Common reasons for calf pain include; increased mileage, change of shoes (especially to lower heel drop), increased hill/speed work, change of technique (towards mid/forefoot striking), weakness and poor flexibility – all which act to increase the ‘load’ on the calf complex.

What Can I Do?

Plenty! First of all, if in doubt, get it checked out.

If it has been annoying you for a while come in and get it checked by our Chartered Physiotherapists who can manage all aspects of your return to running.

Most runners appreciate that strength training is a good addition to their running. However, the calf is often neglected. A tight and weak calf complex is susceptible to injury. Strong and flexible calves are more robust, less likely to fatigue and therefore become injured.

To reduce your chances of calf pain, add the following into your weekly running routine:

Heel raises 1. Knee straight 2. Knee bent

Calf stretches 1. Knee straight 2. Knee bent

Don’t forget to include your hamstrings and glutes. Together with the calf, these form the ‘posterior chain’, so keeping them strong and supple will help support the calf.

If you have a strain, follow the POLICE protocol. Protect, Optimal Loading, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

In the early stages it is wise not to run, but you can still train e.g. cross trainer, bike, swim.

Once you are able to walk and do the stairs without pain for a few days, then you might consider a return to running…but sensibly e.g. walk/run. Let pain guide your progression.

Even if you don’t have calf pain but especially if you have in the past, it is advised to add foam rolling, strength and soft tissue work into your routine.

Let us help you with all aspects of running and book in to see one of our team.