If you’re getting into running but have been experiencing pain in your calves during and after your runs, don’t worry – you’re not alone! In fact, fatigued and sore calves are a common issue for runners, especially when you’re just starting out.
But what exactly causes tightness and pain in the calves, and what can you do to prevent it? Luckily, we’ve got all the answers right here!
In this handy guide, we’ll take you through all there is to know about what causes your calves to hurt while you run, how you can reduce this pain, and the steps you can take to prevent your calves from hurting in the first place.
So read on, and we’ll teach you all you need to know!
Why Are My Calves Hurting When I Run?
Okay, first things first – why does running make your calves hurt? There are actually a couple of different reasons behind this, and each requires a slightly different approach to fix.
The first (and most common) reason behind calf pain in runners is muscle fatigue. This is where the muscles in your calves get tired and tight during your run, which then causes them to hurt.
The reason why this is so common in beginner runners is that your calf muscles aren’t used to the stress they’re put under during a run.
Running is a high-impact exercise and puts your leg muscles under a lot of stress. Because your legs are propelling your forward while also impacting against the ground, they will get worn out pretty quickly.
As a result, it’s common for runners to start experiencing pain in their calves during a run.
This isn’t just limited to beginners, however, and even experienced runners can have the same issue over longer runs.
Another possible cause is improper footwear. Wearing the right shoes is important in any scenario, and this importance is only increased during a run.
Because running means that your feet are repeatedly impacting the ground, it’s vital that you’re getting the right support and cushioning – without it, your calf muscles will face more strain and therefore be more prone to aching and tightness.
This is especially true if you have issues such as flat feet or high arches. In these cases, wearing the wrong footwear affects your stability and balance.
This doesn’t just mean that your calves will have to work harder; issues like these also increase your risk of foot or ankle injury and can even damage your spine.
Your environment can also be a factor in causing pain in your calves. Running uphill or over uneven terrain puts your calves under a lot more stress than running on smooth and even ground.
This means that fatigue will set in faster and cause your calf muscles to start hurting. On top of that, it also puts more strain on your ankles and knees, which your calf muscles then have to work harder to compensate for.
You might be experiencing more calf pain if you aren’t properly prepared for a run. Warm-ups are important for a reason, and part of that is getting your body ready for exercise.
Without the proper warm-up, your calf muscles aren’t going to be prepared for running; as a result, they’ll be more likely to feel tight and start hurting during your run.
Likewise, cooling down is just as important. Your muscles are going to be tighter and your body will be pumping blood after exercise, no matter how good your warm-up was.
If you don’t cool down properly after your run, your calves won’t be able to recover properly and will hurt as a result.
You should always make sure that you warm up and cool down properly when you’re running to reduce the amount of strain on your muscles.
There are some other reasons why your calves might be hurting from running, such as muscle tears and fractures on your shins, but these are less common and the pain caused by them will persist outside of running.
How To Reduce Calf Pain While Running
So now that we’ve established the most common reasons why your calves might be hurting during a run, let’s take a look at some ways to stop it from happening.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a single one-size-fits-all solution to the problem, and it’s hard to keep your calves from hurting completely during a run.
As mentioned before, different causes of calf pain have different solutions; with that being said, however, there are several ways you can limit and reduce the amount of pain you’re experiencing while you run.
One of the best ways to reduce your calf pain is by running more. Yes, you heard that right!
While it might sound counterintuitive, one of the most common causes of calf pain during runs is muscle fatigue – this is most commonly a problem if you aren’t used to running and your calf muscles aren’t as developed yet.
In order to fix this, you can build up your muscles by running.
Not only does building up your calf muscles reduce the amount of pain you face during a run, but it also means that you’ll be able to run for longer before this issue starts to occur.
Training your calves and other leg muscles will improve your endurance and therefore limit calf pain while you run.
Like we mentioned earlier, doing the proper warm-ups and cool downs before and after you run can also make a big difference. This loosens your muscles and keeps them from tightening, limiting (and even preventing) muscle pain.
Stretches, simple exercises, and even just a brisk walk will shift your muscles into gear, ready for your run.
If the issue is with your footwear (ie. from poor support), then this is an even easier fix. Get a good pair of running shoes fitted, and the difference will be instantly noticeable. You can get specialist running shoes to help with issues caused by high arches and flat feet.
Calf pain is an unfortunate side effect of running, especially if you’re new to it, but it’s not something that you should suffer through. Training and using the proper techniques can make a huge difference, and over time you’ll notice this pain start to fade.
So get back out there and keep running, and remember that things will only get easier with time and practice! Good luck!