‘No Pain, No Gain’, it is not just a quote but a reality with which everyone can relate to. No matter which field you choose or game you play, everything comes with some problems. In the field like sports, the pain comes with some issues that can become a big hindrance for you. One such issue that is most likely faced by runners is tight calves and the common question arises should i run with tight calves?
As common as the issue of tight calves is, the other troubles that come with it can be more disturbing. Being a runner you know what we are talking about. It not only the pain that irritates you the most but the long run in tight calves gives you the feeling that it’s going to split into two parts. Running in tight calves can lead to further injuries in the future. This is the reason many runners and athletes ask, ‘Should I run with Tight Calves?‘
Well, the answer to this question relies on the severity and the cause behind tight calves. If the problem of tight calves is very serious and you can’t even move your foot properly, its best to recommend a physician. But if you are new to running or facing the issue for some time, then you can get relief from tight calves.
What are the causes behind Tight Calves?
Calves are the most important part of your legs, especially for runs. They guide your runs by allowing acceleration and balance to your body. Calf muscles help you in pushing you forward by lifting the weight from heels and shifting it to toes. It helps you to increase speed on hills, or stop when someone comes in front of you. Along with that, calves lookout for your balance so that you don’t fall, is it be runs or walks.
In the physiological language, tight calves are the weak calves. Yeah…it sounds like a body deficiency, but it is just an issue caused by the negligence of muscle maintenance and proper calves exercises.
Weak calves are more pronto injuries like shin splints, calf pain, Achilles tendonitis or hamstrings. If you are new to running or haven’t been actively involved in calf exercises, you can face the issue of weak calves.
Inappropriate running technique
Just like any other sports, running requires adequate technique and concentration. As wrong actions lead to wrong reactions. Our calf muscles act as the main element that helps your body to move forward by shifting the bodyweight on the toes.
But, when this process is not performed in the right manner or weight distribution is inappropriate. The pressure on the calves increases as it becomes difficult for calf muscles to push your body forward. Eventually, causes the problem of calves like tight calves or stiffness in calves.
Negligence of Stretching
Just like our mind, our muscles need to wake up. Stretching is a basic way to activate the muscles and preparing them for the work it has to perform. Being the basic element for performing different activities like running and walking, it becomes a necessity for you to properly stretch muscles.
Most of the people neglect the stretching and get fully start with the main exercises and runs. This not just leads to putting stress on calf muscle but becomes the reason behind the severe injuries in the future.
Running is a very exhausting activity that causes lots of sweating. Although, sweating is an essential part of our body’s natural process. As it shed moisture from the body and supports you in keeping the body cool even in sunny or warmer weather. But excessive sweating becomes the reason behind the dehydration.
Other than water, dehydration also shed salt from the body. That causes a deficiency of salt and leads to cramps. These cramps are the issue behind the pain or tightness of calves.
Pushing your limits
If you are a runner, you know very well what pushing the limit means. Running is a sport of training and patience, any hurry can get you in many problems. To increase the pace, runners tend to change there style and speed. This change comes as a shock to the calf muscles and puts pressure on them.
Calf muscles are responsible for repairing and adapting your legs with the pace. But this sudden change puts lots of pressure on calves and slower the repair rate. Eventually, it results in issues like tight calves or calf pain.
With the running techniques, it is important to select that footwear that suits your needs. It should complement you with each stride and not complicate your runs. As wrong shoe selection diverts your mind, it causes irritation, foot pain, body pain, and injuries.
Along with running shoes, take a good look at what you wear normally or on occasion. Shoes with elevated heels or high heels keep that calf muscles at shortened state for a long time, when you again get barefoot or on neutral shoes, your muscles don’t seem to adapt it and get tight or stiff.
How to Get Rid of tight calves?
Every individual is different and unique in its own way. The problems or the cause behind that issue is also different from others. Similarly, maybe the reason behind your tight calves is different from the other runners and athletes, so is its treatment.
Some face the problem of tight calves before running, some face it after some hours of running and some face it during the course of runs. Each problem has different causes and the duration of pain also judges the severity of the issue. But there are some remedies which help you to get rid of tight calves.
Stretching is like the basic grammar of any exercise or sports. It’s just that everyone knows it but lesser follows it. Lack of stretching and flexibility in the body causes the problem of tight calves. It is necessary that you should stretch your muscles and focus on back leg stretches for calves flexibility.
Try to incur these stretches after each runs that gets the muscles relaxed. Also, include some calf exercises in the post-run or cool-down stretching. This will help in proper blood flow to the calf muscles which prevents tight calves.
Focus on Strengthening
Stretching and other factors work in reducing and easing the muscles. But if your muscles are weak then it’s best that you look for the exercises that help in making them stronger and flexible.
- Eccentric Calf Raise on stairs: This strengthening exercise requires you to stand on a stair with the heels hanging off the step. Now, try to raise yourself on the tiptoes for some seconds, release this position and come back to the initial position.
- Standing on tiptoes along with the weight: Stand on the flat surface and raise yourself on the tiptoes. Hold the weight or dumbbells on each hand, be in this position for a few seconds and slowly lower yourself to the initial position.
- Walking on tiptoes: It is one of the simplest ways to strengthen the calf muscles. You need to stand on your tiptoes and walk for at least 30 seconds. Try to increase the duration of the progression. Along with this, add dumbbells on both hands to get more strength.
Follow your Training Schedule
Following proper training, a schedule is important to keep your body free from the tight calves. As you will know how to run, at what intensity and distance to cover which doesn’t let you push yourself further than the limits. Make sure that it is prepared as per your ability so that you won’t face too much shock and stress on your calves.
Being hydrated not just keep you energized but helps your body to be free from cramps. It’s best that you drink as much water as you run or sweat. Also, sweating leads to loss of salt, so add some salt or electrolyte tab in the water. This will increase the amount of sodium and electrolytes in the body.
Choose correct footwear
Selecting correct footwear is important to protect calves from any stress. For that, you need to pick the shoes that are suitable as per your foot, offer necessary support, comfort, and heel drop. Other than that, try to avoid wearing high heels as much as possible.
You can check the best shoes for tight calves
Calves are the most important part of our body as it helps your body to push forward or decrease its pace. An issue like tightness in calves acts as a barrier in the development of your calf or pace of your runs. Sportsman Spirit doesn’t let you stop running in tight calves. So it’s best that you take proper measures to prevent these issues or follow some measures to get rid of tight calves.
Proper stretching, strengthening, following a given training schedule, time to time hydration and wearing correct footwear are some of the best ways to deal with the situation of the right calves.