Calf pain; Causes and remedies

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The different muscles in our body helps us in the coordination and movement of our body.

Muscles are made up of tissues and they can extend or contract depending on the movement.

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Too much or forceful movement of a part of the body strains the muscle that is attached to that part. These strains occurs when that part of the body is overuse.

Calf pain is a usual occurrence in people that are very active with their legs especially people that carry out activities that involve running as professionals or as a hobby.

It usual happens when you put too pressure on the calf muscle more than it is used to.

If you just started running as a beginner, you will experience calf pain because the muscle is not yet used to the activity of running.

The calf is the muscle mass at the back of your leg, in between the knee and the ankle.

Some call it muscle pull, muscle cramps, lower leg pain, calf tightness etc.

The pain can be a sharp pain or a gradual pain but whatever the form of pain, it makes  you very uncomfortable and most times, you have to stop the activities you are doing.

The calf muscle comprises of three muscles together called the triceps surae or the achilles tendon but individually are the gastrocnemius, soleus and plantaris. These are the muscles work to propel you forward, stabilise the knee and the ankle and also aid in the pushing off the ground. A calf pain can occur if any of the three muscles is strained.

Calf pain

CAUSES OF CALF PAIN

There are numerous causes of calf pain but the most important to take note of are the following:

  1. Dehydration: this occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in and your body lacks enough fluid to carry out its normal functions. The body is 70% water and muscles are not an exception. Severe dehydration can lead to intense pain or spasms called Charlie horses.

Lactic acid builds up in the muscles and water is important in the flushing out of the acid from the body.

  • Weak muscles: this can increase the strain on other muscles since one muscle must balance out the inactivity of the other. The hips must be able to assist in running and weak hips function are a  major cause of calf pain.

TREATMENT OF CALF PAIN

If you have calf pain, you can use the following two-fold strategy for the treatment;

  1. Reduce stress on the calf to allow it to heal.

The first thing you need to do to reduce the stress on the calf is the stop the activity that caused the pain in the first instance and carry out an assessment of the leg and the activity.

When stretching, do it gradually and not sharply and try to hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

Also avoid stretching through the pain. Make sure the muscle is relaxed and the pain is eased while stretching or else stop the stretch if the pain persist.

While stretching, don’t bounce on the leg.

RICE: this means Rest the calf, apply ice on the affected place, Compress to help promote blood flow and Elevate the affected area.

2.  Strengthen the calf muscles

    If the calf muscles are weak, it will not take a lot of strain to make it start to pain. That is the reason you need to start slowly and get all the muscles of the body use to that activity before you fire up.

You need to get a regimen meant specifically for strengthening the calf muscles and do it over a period of time to get the muscle strengthened.

PREVENTION OF CALF PAIN

Knowledge is important in the prevention of calf pain. The following will help prevent calf pain:

Just like you warm your car in anytime your car has been stationary for a while, it is also important you stretch everytime before you run. This is critical especially during the cold weather.

Rehydrate constantly if you are running on a hot day. Electrolyte rich beverage is beneficial in avoiding calf pain.

Getting the right shoes for running is very important to preventing calf pain. Everybody’s feet is not the same in shape, calf, instep of flat footed etc. there is a perfect fit of running shoes for your kind of feet which will help prevent calf pain.

Stretches

STRETCHES TO PREVENT CALF PAIN

There are several exercise routines that can help with calf pain especially in avoiding the pain. It is necessary that you incorporate these exercises in your daily routine.

CALF STRETCH 1

  1. Stand near a wall with one foot in front of the other, front knee slightly bent.
  2. Keep your back knee straight, your heel on the ground, and lean toward the wall.
  3. Feel the stretch all along the calf of your back leg.
  4. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds or more.
  5. Switch legs, then alternate for a total of 3 repetitions.

CALF STRETCH 2

  1. Stand with feet at the edge of a step and your heel of the step, your legs together, your back straight and your hands at your sides.
  2. Lift yourself up on your toes with your heels off the ground and slowly go down.

CALF STRETCH 3

  1. Stand near a wall with one foot in front of the other, front knee slightly bent.
  2. Keep your back knee straight, your heel on the ground, and lean toward the wall.
  3. Feel the stretch all along the calf of your back leg.
  4. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds.

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