Calf pain is a common complaint among runners. Your calf is actually a group of two muscles located in the back of your lower leg. Straining or tearing the muscles creates discomfort ranging from a mild aching when running to a sharp pain even at rest. Calf pain can also occur if you increase the intensity, distance or duration of your workouts suddenly. Reduce your calf pain when running by adjusting your workout habits.
Stretch out your calf muscles before you begin to run if chronic calf pain is a concern. For your pre-workout stretches, focus on dynamic stretches, in which you move your targeted joint through its entire range of motion. To do a dynamic calf stretch, sit on the ground, with your legs straight in front of you. Slowly point and flex your ankle, bringing your toes toward the ground and then up to the ceiling. Do between 15 and 20 repetitions of the stretch, trying to increase the range of motion with each subsequent repetition.
Drink water before you go running and during longer workouts. Dehydration is one possible cause of muscle aches and cramps, including calf pain. Rehydrate after your run as well with water or sports beverages.
Adjust your stride to ensure you are not contributing to your calf pain when running. Your heel and toes should come in contact with the pavement with equal amounts of force; putting more pressure on the forefoot and less pressure on the heel can exacerbate calf strains.
Wear shoe lifts in the heel area of your shoe if chronic tight calves are the source of your pain while running. The lift, available at shoe stores and sporting goods retailers, keeps your calf in a stretched position while you run.
Increase your mileage incrementally to reduce the likelihood of calf strains from overuse. Stay consistent with your running surface; flatter terrains are less apt to contribute to calf pain than hills.
Stop your workout when your lower leg aches persist. Ice your calves, take over-the-counter pain relievers and give your body several days to rest before running again.
Things You'll Need
Over-the-counter pain reliever
After your workouts, stretch out your calves with a static stretch. Place your palms flat on a wall and take a step back so that your legs are an arm's length away from the wall. Take another step back with one leg until your legs are a shoulder's width distance apart. Push against the wall, keeping your front knee bent and back knee straight. Hold the stretch for up to 15 seconds before switching the position of your legs and stretching the other calf. Do 3 or 4 repetitions on each leg.
Certain serious medical conditions -- like blood clots -- can cause calf pain. Contact your doctor if your pain worsens even with self-care measures.