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Soleus Pain and Running

by
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.
Soleus Pain and Running
Overtraining can lead to soleus pain. Photo Credit RyanKing999/iStock/Getty Images

Running tones your muscles, burns calories and relieves stress. However, it can also lead to pain in your soleus -- the deep muscle in your calf. This muscle helps push your body forward while you run. Because calf pain can be a symptom of more serious conditions, such as a blood clot, see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis if you have pain.

Symptoms

Soleus pain is felt deep in your calf. Early on, you might only have pain when you run. However, soleus pain can also continue at rest -- particularly if you continue to run through the pain. You might also notice that your calf feels tight and stiff.

Bruising and swelling can occur with more serious injuries such as a muscle tear. This injury can also prevent you from putting weight on your leg. See a doctor if you experience these symptoms.

A wide variety of running shoes are available.
A wide variety of running shoes are available. Photo Credit Kikovic/iStock/Getty Images

Causes

Running technique can contribute to soleus pain. Because this muscle helps propel your body forward, it has to work harder when you run fast. The soleus muscle also kicks into high gear when you run uphill or up stairs.

Overtraining can lead to sore muscles. Increasing your running distance or frequency too quickly affects your soleus muscle's ability to recover. Running with tired muscles increases risk of injury, too.

Soleus pain can develop from running on uneven surfaces. Sand, grass, gravel and other uneven terrain require your calf muscles to work harder to keep your balance. Roads that are unevenly paved often have slanted edges where athletes run to avoid traffic. This can contribute to sore soleus muscles.

Improper running footwear can contribute to soleus pain. For example, if you have high arches, you might need shoes with more support in the middle of your shoe. Running technique should also be considered when choosing your shoes. If you land hard on your heels when you run, you might need shoes with thicker cushioning. Many local running stores will perform a gait analysis for free so you can get the right shoe for your foot.

Ice decreases pain after running.
Ice decreases pain after running. Photo Credit sh22/iStock/Getty Images

Read more: Soleus Muscle Stretches

Treatment

Several home remedies can be used to treat soleus pain caused by running.

Ice

Ice packs reduce soleus pain after running by calming irritated nerves. Ice also temporarily decreases blood flow to the muscle, reducing inflammation. Apply ice to your calf for up to 20 minutes after running.

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

Stretching

Soleus pain is often accompanied by muscle tightness. Perform stretches prior to and after a run to reduce pain and tightness.

Step 1

Stand with your feet staggered with the injured leg in the back. Place your hands on a wall or other firm surface for support.

Step 2

Bend your back knee slightly to target your soleus muscle. Keeping your back heel planted on the ground, slowly bend your front knee. Stretch until you feel a pull along the calf in your back leg. Do not stretch to the point of pain.

Step 3

Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat several times.

Soleus pain is often treated with physical therapy.
Soleus pain is often treated with physical therapy. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists use a variety of treatments to reduce soleus pain, including ultrasound, electrical stimulation, massage and manual stretching. In addition, physical therapists can evaluate your running technique and recommend appropriate running shoes to better address the cause of your soleus pain.

Read more: How to Help a Strained Soleus Muscle

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