Calf Pain & Tight Calf Muscles in Runners

Thu,Mar 24, 2016 at 10:39AM by

Benefits of foot and calf massage for treating calf pain

Function of calf muscles and their role in running

The calf is made up of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles (which connect the back of the knee to the ankle via the achilles tendon). The role of these muscles is to point the toes and lift the heel, and also to bend the knee towards the buttocks. Calf muscles help with power and propulsion though the ball of the foot during ‘toe-off’ in running. Calf pain is common in runners who do not stretch efficiently, or who suddenly increase the intensity, distance or duration of their workouts. Massage and stretching are a great combination to treat calf pain and prevent it from occurring.

Anatomy of Calf Muscles With Common Areas for Calf Pain

Benefits of massage for calf pain and tight calf muscles

//   Increases flexibility through the ankle and knee which in turn helps with speed and power
//   Reduces the risk of injury (for example plantar fasciitis, muscle tears or sprains in calves/achilles and injuries to other areas like feet, knees and hips to due an altered running pattern)
//   Increases circulation – more oxygen and blood flow to muscles means a decrease in toxins (including metabolic waste and lactic acid)
//   Decreases muscle soreness

Massage treatment to reduce calf pain

//   Work thorough the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) directly to decrease tension
//   Stretch calf muscles
//   Massage around the ankle and heel where the achilles is attached to the heel bone
//   Massage the underside of the foot and into the arch (which can become quite tight, particularly with plantar fasciitis)
//   Massage the top of the foot, around the tendons where the muscles of the front of the lower leg attach to the toes and foot

Note: Massage for calf pain is not limited to just the lower leg and foot – it may also be required to work through the lower back, buttocks and thighs due to the change in running patterns.

How to prevent calf pain when running

//   Make sure that you stretch post-run, as this decreases calf muscle tightness
//   Stay hydrated (before, during and after your run) – hydration helps to eliminate the toxins (such as metabolic waste and lactic acid) that build up during a run

Calf Pain & Tight Calf Muscles in Runners Stretch to Relieve Calf Pain on CoreAlign

Related article: Calf muscle exercises for acquired calf shortening.


Laura Kinmont practices her profession of musculoskeletal therapy and remedial massage in Brisbane with Body Organics. She completed her Bachelor of Health Science (Musculoskeletal Therapy) degree at Endeavour College of Natural Health in 2008. As part of this degree she learned remedial massage, pregnancy massage, cupping (a Chinese technique used to help relax tight muscles and other soft tissue), sports massage, myofascial release (another soft tissue stretching technique) as well as joint mobilisations (a gentle joint technique used to help realign joint misalignments). Laura is available for remedial massage and musculoskeletal treatments at all 3 Body Organics studios in Brisbane: Chelmer, West End and Annerley.

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