Calf tightness and back pain are two of the most common complaints among runners. Luckily, they’re also fairly easy to remedy. Less fortunate, they can also be some of the most frustrating injuries to deal with. What makes them so difficult is that they often come out of nowhere and leave you sidelined for weeks before they subside again.
Yesterday was awesome.
The kids and I went to the bike park. The park was full of mud, so it was a fun but messy time.
Okay, I am getting on to today’s article.
I wanted to answer a Fix My Back Pain customer question.
“Hello Mr. Kaselj,, I have been doing the exercises as per the “Sprains and Strains” section in Fix My Back Pain for the last week based on your suggestion (The Sprints and Strains is type 1 when it comes to the injuries specific exercises that I go through in FixMyBackPain.com .) that is how to reduce my back pain, however, I noticed there is some tightness in my left calf muscle and some times it feels a little heavy. Do you have any advice? Thanks “
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I recommend starting off doing some Foam Rolling Over the Calf and following up that Foam Rolling Over the Calf with Stretching out the Calf.
1. Foam Rolling the Calf
Just take the Foam Roller, I have a 3-foot foam roller, but a 1-foot is perfectly fine. What I am going to do is go on the floor. I got my leg on the foam roller. You can start at the knee or just below it, or at the ankle or heel (just above it), whichever you prefer.
I am rolling back and forth over the Calf.
I’m working on that whole belly of the Calf.
The leg is straight, the toes are straight up, and I am working on rolling from the heel up to just
below the knee.
You can start with five repetitions; you can progress to 10 repetitions.
2. Stretching out the Calf
After you are done with the foam rolling of your left Calf, I will follow it up with stretching out the Calf.
This will be demonstrated on my right because it’s easier to see.
My feet are together, my hands are against the wall, I am going to step back, and I’m looking for a light stretch on the Calf. I’m going to take the tension off that stretch, and then I’m going to relax.
I will do this stretch twice on each side.
If you’re short on time, focus on the left and try that one time and then do a check to see, “How does it feel?”
And if you feel better, worse, or the same.
If it feels better, we want to build on it, and if it feels better, do it once. You can do one that day and see how it is. If the next day it feels better, you can try twice a day—one in the morning and one in the evening.
One last comment. If the calf tightness persists, get it looked at by your doctor. There could be something else going in your back.
There you go. Thank you very much for your question. I hope that will help you out.
If you are looking for a program to help you overcome your back pain and get back to pain-free workouts, check out FixMyBackPain.com.
What’s Causing Your Back Pain And Calf Tightness?
Once you’ve identified the source of your pain, it will be easier to come up with a solution. Now let’s look at the most common causes of back pain and calf tightness and see how you can treat them:
- Tight calves: Tight calves usually come from imbalances in the muscles of your legs. If you’ve been neglecting your calf muscles for too long, they may be weaker than the ones in your thighs. This can cause your calves to be overworked and lead to tightness. To fix this imbalance, you’ll either need to spend more time working your calves, or you’ll need to work your thighs less. The best way to do this is by adding exercises for the calves to your warm-up routine.
- Weak calves: If your calves are weak, it’s probably because they’re not getting enough attention. This can happen if you spend too much time running on the outsides of your feet, which are the parts of your feet that your calves are responsible for power. To fix this, spend more time running on the insides of your feet, so your calves get a chance to get stronger.
Take care and bye-bye.
Rick Kaselj, MS