Those who run a lot know it is so easy to hurt their hips, ankles, feet, and calves in the process. Hurting your calf is quite common actually because the calf, which is the combination of the soleus and the gastrocnemius muscles, powers your Achilles tendon and may get inflamed due to an injury to Achilles tendon or surrounding ligaments and muscles. You can however make use of specific massage techniques to avoid calf pain after running and to reduce pain if you're already feeling some pain.
How to Relieve Calf Pain After Running
You can definitely find ways to alleviate running calf pain, but it is important to identify the cause of concern first. Click here to learn causes of calf pain from running. Stretching helps, but there are situations when you should not use stretching or strengthening exercises. Here's more about it:
1. For Calf Strain
You can divide calf strain injuries into three categories. It could be a grade-one strain that you may not notice until you actually come back to a resting point – all you experience is some tightness while stretching your muscles. A grade-two strain is characterized by immediate pain when you contract or stretch your muscle – it may even feel a bit sore to touch. If you're noticing a burning sensation with pain while running, it is usually the outcome of a grade-three calf strain.
How to deal with it: Using ice packs is often a good idea, but you need to take a lot of rest and may have to use sports orthotics, heel cushions, and calf sleeves to overcome this type of calf pain after running. Your recovery phase will include specific stretching and strengthening (resistance) training. Sometimes, you have to perform stability exercises for core strength to improve overall muscle function – this also helps prevent calf strain injuries in future.
2. Ice and Heat
Using ice and heat treatment for calf pain running injures often proves beneficial. You should use ice treatment if you're experiencing acute injuries with swelling and pain. You should apply an ice pack as early as possible, usually within the first 48 hours of getting injured. You can also use ice packs to deal with chronic conditions, such as overuse calf injuries. Don't use an icepack before running.
You can also opt for heat treatments if you want to loosen your muscles and tissues after . This improves blood circulation to the affected area. You should avoid using heat packs right after running or any other activity. It is also a good idea to avoid using heat if you've suffered an acute injury. For proper heating, you can use a hot, wet towel or buy yourself a heating pad. Make sure the heat pack is not too hot or it would cause burns. Only apply heat 48 hours later until swelling reduces.
3. Calf Massage
One way to avoid and treat calf pain after running is to give your calf muscles a pampering massage. Doing this will improve blood flow and relieve pain. You shouldn't massage the area if swelling is still there. Sometimes, you notice swelling due to a blood clot, and massaging the area might break off the clot and make it travel through your bloodstream.
If you're going to massage, be sure to sit in a relaxing chair. Now, remove your shoes and any socks you may be wearing. Place your feet flat on the ground and lightly stroke your calf. Use your index fingers to press the back of your leg and slowly move your hands in an upward direction. Massage until you reach the knee. Do the same 10 times.
Here’s more on calf massage for relief:
4. The Drive Back Exercise
You can perform this exercise to strengthen your calf muscles and to relieve calf pain after running. Attach your heel to a cable machine with your face towards the structure. Now, lift your one foot while maintain your balance using the other foot. Raise your leg a bit and bring it in front of you. While making sure the foot is still in the band, slowly drive it backwards using power from your hamstrings and glutes. Do 20 reps for each leg.
5. Single-Leg Glute Bridge
Lie on floor with your leg bent and foot placed on the floor. Your other leg should lie flat on the floor. Now raise one leg, lifting your pelvis slowly using your core and glutes. Make sure you don’t lift your shoulder blade off the floor. Do 15 reps on each leg.
6. Calf Stretch
Stand against a wall or another supporting area with your arms stretched. Now, place one of your feet behind your body, keeping the other one under your shoulder blades. Know try to place your back foot flat on the floor to feel a stretch in your heel and calf. Hold the position for a few seconds and repeat.
7. Toe Dips
Use your toes to stand on a ledge or another elevated surface. Be sure to use something for support. Now, lower your heels slowly towards the ground until you feel a stretch in your calf. Hold it for a while and return to the normal position.
8. Towel Pull
Get a towel and hold one of its ends while looping its middle around your toes. Point your toes in the upward direction while making sure your knee is straight. Now, pull the towel towards your body to feel a stretch.
Here are more remedies to treat sore calf muscles after running: