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Recovery Tips for Calf Pain From Running

author image Aubrey Bailey
Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.
Recovery Tips for Calf Pain From Running
Running on stairs increases strain on calf muscles. Photo Credit Kikovic/iStock/Getty Images

Running tones your muscles, makes your heart stronger and even helps relieve stress. However, it isn't without downfalls. Calf pain can develop, particularly if you run on hills or stairs. The good news is, you can treat your calf pain at home with some simple recovery tips.

Serious injuries such as a torn Achilles tendon or torn gastronemius can cause calf pain. Seek medical attention if your calf pain interferes with your ability to walk, or if you can't bear weight on your leg. Calf pain can be a sign of emergency conditions such as a blood clot. If your calf is red, hot and swollen, seek immediate medical attention.

Read More: Soleus Pain and Running

Don't stretch to the point of pain.
Don't stretch to the point of pain. Photo Credit Samo Trebizan/iStock/Getty Images


Gentle stretching helps decrease calf pain after running. There are two muscles in your calf -- the gastrocnemius and soleus. To target both muscles, you will stretch in two positions.

Step 1

Stand facing a wall, with one foot in front of the other, staggered approximately three feet apart. Place your palms against the wall for balance.

Step 2

Keep your back knee straight and the heel of your back leg on the ground. Slowly bend your front leg until you feel a stretch along the calf of your back leg. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times.

Step 3

Repeat this stretch with your back knee bent slightly, while still keeping your heel pressed against the ground. Repeat both stretch positions on your opposite leg.

Fill a plastic bag with ice cubes if you don't have an ice pack.
Fill a plastic bag with ice cubes if you don't have an ice pack. Photo Credit AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images


Ice helps reduce calf pain immediately after running by reducing blood flow to the area. Wrap a thin towel around your calf and place an ice pack on the painful area for 10 to 20 minutes. Consider holding the ice pack in place with plastic wrap to free up your hands. Elevate your leg while icing to decrease swelling. Continue icing for two to three days, several times per day while your pain persists.


Heat increases blood flow to your muscles and improves your ability to move. Heat can be applied to your calf beginning two to three days after your pain starts. Apply a heat pack to your calf for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Consider heating your calf prior to stretching to improve your flexibility.

Running with pain can lead to injury.
Running with pain can lead to injury. Photo Credit Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

Training Tips

Avoid running on hills or stairs if you have calf pain. These surfaces require your calf muscles to work overtime. Consider alternating running and walking during your workouts to reduce tension on your calf muscles. Stretch before and after your workouts. If you consistently have calf pain with running, consider having a physical therapist or running coach assess your footwear and running form.

Read more: How to Reduce Calf Pain When Running

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