I'm slowly starting to increase my running frequency (average distance of 5-7km) after a sporadic couple of months with injury.

I'm noticing that my calves are always sore and very tight/pumped when running. I'm not new to running but am finding that my soleus stays very sore for 5+ days after a run.

I stretch a little afterwards and occasionally use a foam roller. It's most painful going down stairs.

Any suggestions?

2 Answers 2


Stretches - Here are two q/a about stretching your calves:

  1. Gastroc and Soleus with links and

  2. Gastroc Soleus with pictures.

    Note that you have to put the gastrocnemius on slack to stretch the soleus. Also, make sure to keep your heal in line with your forefoot to avoid pronating or collapsing the arch instead of isolating the stretch.

Massage and Foam Rolling

Regular use of the foam roller after your runs should help. You can also raise your leg higher than your heart and do some massage from the ankle towards the knee. However, given that you've had an injury (anywhere on the body can affect your fascial system), an evaluation and treatment from a sports or orthopedic physical therapist may help. Proper hydration is also important to the fascia.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Factors

Also, take a look at @Ivo's information about intrinsic and extrinsic factors which may help you isolate the cause.

  • A common intrinsic factor that leads to lower leg injuries is weak hip musculature.
  • Your recent injury and lack of conditioning would also be factors to consider. You may benefit from alternative exercises like running in a pool or swimming to help increase your conditioning until your calves and post injury fitness level are in better shape.
  • Extrinsic factors include your shoes and running surfaces.
  • Running Form - Some runners find that transitioning to minimalist shoes and a more anterior footstrike reduces injuries. See my answer here for the links to the study - Stretches and muscle work for Supination or Underpronation.

The first question is why are your calves getting so tight?

You say you have increased your runs, by how much quickly?

Was the injury also calf related?

It might be worth checking your trainers, do they need changing?
How many miles have you done in them and did you get have your gait analysis done at a specialist running shop when you purchased them?

If you are happy that your trainers are fine, there are a number of things you can try.

An ice bath after your run, will help reduce soreness. Foam roller after all runs. You could try running in compression socks, which would help with blood flow and aid recovery.

If none of the above work, I would suggest you either ease off and increase again more slowly, or see a sports physio

  • Hi Tracy and thanks for your answer. The injury was not calf related and I've gone from 5km to 7km over a month. My trainers have 85km in them and I tested these in a running shop on a treadmill before purchase. I'll try the roller after every run and might look at foods that combat inflammation too, every little helps.
    – msw1875
    Mar 29, 2014 at 8:08
  • No probs. Also, you didn't say are you running outside or on a treadmill? If on the treadmill you may find outside running is better for your calves, particulately if you are able to run off road. Mar 29, 2014 at 11:58
  • I only run outside. My most recent run was a mix of cross country and road.
    – msw1875
    Mar 29, 2014 at 22:49

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