Stretching & Flexibility Lesson II

Calf Muscles Pain and Stretching :

After run and leg workout, Calf muscles tightness and pain is common. In this post I will be talking about some of the reasons that cause it, and it’s prevention. I will also take you through few stretches to deal with the calf tightness and pain.

Refer my previous “Stretching and Flexibility” lessons which state the importance of stretching (post 1) and explains how to do Hamstring, Glutes, Hips stretching poses (post 2).

I came across  Calf tightness and pain problem a lot while and after running or after leg workout, in varying degrees. For some people, the calf muscles simply feel a bit tight the day after a long or hard run. For others, the tension affects them when running and can be so severe that the aching pain causes them to stop. But what could be it’s cause when there has been no previous injury? There are many reasons you can develop calf pain.

Here are some of them:

  • Running too much, with less recovery time
  • Weak calf muscles and lack of flexibility
  • Inappropriate footwear
  • Inadequate warm-up / cool-down
  • Running form

Running too much, with less recovery time : Running frequently without adequate recovery break. Listen to your body! Do not jump to grab all in day 1. Give enough recovery time to your body between your training schedule. Three times a week running schedule combined with strength training is balanced schedule.

Flexibility and Weak calf muscles : Stretch, Stretch and Stretch !!

Some people are born with inbuilt flexibility but nothing to worry if you are not the one. You can build it by regular practice. Do not limit stretching to before and after running/workout. This means stretching 2-3 times a day, if not more, to really see an increase in flexibility.Try some strengthening exercises – single leg calf raises are great and require no equipment.

Inappropriate footwear and form :  Your running form could play a big part in your calf muscle tightness and pain. Most of us just run however feels natural to us. Avoid landing on your heel and front foot or toes. Running with a mid foot strike alters the bio-mechanics of your running cycle, it shortens stride length and changes the loading on your calf muscles, as well as reducing the impact through the foot and lower leg.

Try imagining yourself landing flat foot on the ground, keeping your body weight equally balanced on your feet. Experiment bare foot running !!

Choose the right shoes for running. Get Gait-Analysis done to get the right running shoes for your foot type.

Inadequate warm-up / cool-down : Do ensure you proper warm-up before running. I will be posting pre-run warm-up video soon. Refer my previous post for Hamstrings and Glutes (Hips) stretches. Stay tuned for more related stretches.

Do make sure you finish your run with a walk for 5 minutes and then a proper stretching session, as this is where stretching really comes into its own to reduce post exercise soreness.

Refer some of the calf muscles stretches below.

Heel raise – down stretch :

How to do this stretch : Stand on your toes putting them on bit higher level (6-7 inches) from ground or on stairs. Heels hanging. Hold a support with your hands so you can balance your body properly. Now raise your heels up high; as much as possible; pushing your heels up, and pressing toes down. Hold this posture for 15 -20 seconds.

Now bring your heels down; keeping the toes position intact. Press your heel down to the below toes floor level. Hold this posture for 15-20 seconds. Repeat the movements –up and down ( Heels raise up and down) for 10 times at least.

Standing Calf stretch: 

 

How to do this stretch : Stand straight in front of a wall. Move your one leg towards wall, keeping other leg little little behind. Put the heel down and toes touching the wall, of front leg. Now push your toes against the wall of front leg and press your down, little bend your upper body towards the wall. Keep your knees locked, no bending in knees. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. To get deeper the stretch, get closer to the wall.

To move the stretch to bit lower, slightly bend your front knee; keeping back leg knee straight . Repeat this for 3-4 times at least.

Repeat the same on other leg.

Front Bend Calf Stretch:

How to do this stretch : 

Stand straight, put your left leg front, toe pointing front. Open your right leg side wise by moving right foot side, toe facing side. Now bend your right leg and keep your left knee straight. Lift your left toe. Do not bend the front(left) leg knee and keep the heel down. Bend from upper body. Try hold your front toe with your hand.

Keep pressing your hip down (feel like sitting on back leg). Pull your toes up (towards your body) with your hands to get better stretch in calf muscles. Hold the stretch for 20-40 seconds and repeat for at least  3 times.

This stretch works very well on your glutes/hips and hamstrings as well.

Enjoy stretching !!

Refer next post on quadriceps muscles stretches.

NOTE: Along with good stretching, I suggest you to do proper ice compression on the sore/tight muscles. Consult your doctor if it is severe.

STAY TUNED !!

Do post your comments below.

 

 

 

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