For most of 2016 I had sore calf muscles. For those new to this website in 2016 I decided out of the blue to attempt to run 1000 miles in the year. Whilst I did complete an Ironman Triathlon in 2011 post that I essentially did little to no exercise.
I had tried, but normally sore calf muscles meant I wasn’t successful in picking up my running again. For me the pain manifested itself in the form of tight knots in the Lateral Gastrocnemius Muscle. Essentially the upper outside of my calf muscle. No amount of foam rolling, massage, water consumption or pain killing cream had any affect on the pain that kept surfacing.
Sore Calf Muscles & How I Fixed Mine
In early 2017 I was out once again to sore calf muscles and this time benched for about a month. I decided this time to try some new approaches. Im going to talk through a few different things I’m doing now that has helped me stay injury free for the first time ever.
Ive taken stretching of my calf muscles a lot more seriously this time around. Downward dog happens normally every day now. Normally its just before bed. The TV is on and I’m laying on the floor moaning & groaning. I also do heel drops on an elevated surface like a sidewalk or step in my work out room.
Nope, thats a big No-No. I stopped foam rolling this year. A year of excruciating pain & anguish has left me with no confidence in foam rolling. It was always just far to painful. I was never able to put any amount of body weight on my calf muscles. I even tried using “the stick” type foam rollers. I can confidently say I have no use for foam rollers ( when you’re healthy ) especially not the calf muscles. If things however aren’t feeling great i would then recommend a massage therapist or Physio instead of the foam roller.
Yes I know that goes completely against the status quo but as you get to know me, thats pretty much what I’m all about. Im a bit of a rebel like that. Every single person I’ve ever talked to always recommends or uses foam rolling. Not me. See you later foam roller.
Yes I’m 100% in this case recommending drugs. As someone who has now crossed the barrier of 40 we really need all the help we can get. Over the last year I’ve done quite a bit of research & reading into things that could help prolong my ability to run round the block or even longer events like Ultra Marathons etc.
It turns out that sore muscles can often be caused by a deficiency in Magnesium. Magnesium is one key factor in the contraction & release of muscles. Along with Magnesium, Calcium plays a huge roll in this as well. Doctors recommend that Calcium & magnesium be taken in conjunction as they function together in this process. For full details you can read this article. Calcium, Magnesium & Sore Muscles ( Livestrong )
Once I started taking a Calcium & Magnesium supplement every morning the change in my muscle soreness & performance was almost night and day. Not only was the initial pain much less BUT it felt like I didn’t need to take 2 or 3 days off after even a short run. I felt like I could bounce back much quicker.
The big kicker was then on days after my long run harder efforts it felt like my recovery was also way faster. Whilst Im still not a fan of doing back to back runs, ( I prefer short easy bike rides on days after a long run ) i recently ran 50 miles in 5 days back to back without to much issue which was a huge stride for me. disclaimer : Im not a doctor and this is just what personally worked for me.
Ugh!! The bane of my existence. Man I H-A-T-E the gym. All I want to do is C-A-R-D-I-O…All day long. I wish I could just ride my bike or run all day long. I would be perfectly happy with that. It took me a while to put the two thoughts of weight lifting & cardio together in my head. For me weight lifting was the thing people did at the gym in front of the mirror. There isn’t a more boring activity in the world than weight lifting. Then during my 1000 mile journey last year I changed that term from weight lifting to Strength work. I don’t know what it was, but a switch flicked in my head.
I knew that if I wanted to keep running I needed to incorporate strength work. Strength work was to me different than weight lifting. All of a sudden I wasn’t trying to get “big muscles”, rather i was trying to get “strong muscles”. Strong muscles are KEY to running. Think of it this way. Strength work is the electricity OR juice that powers a battery. Running or Cardio is where you use up that stored energy. Strength = IN & Running = OUT.
If you’re not doing enough strength work it will catch up to you eventually and injury will soon follow like the Grimm Reaper. One of my favorite strength exercises is to put a heavy barbell on my shoulders and do simple calf raises.
For this initial period it seems that this 1 simple move has strengthen my calves enough to keep me in the clear as far as calf pain and fatigue is concerned.
Rest & Recovery
At our age this one is key. Rest & Recovery are super important for sore calf muscles. If you’re just starting out coming back to running I would recommend a 3 mile 3 days a week program. Tuesday, Thursday & then a weekend day. This gives your muscles & bones good recovery time in between runs. For the first few weeks or months don’t try break any records. Use this time to get to know your body. Respect the aches & pains, take note of those areas and use that as a focus in your strength sessions.
Compression wear is great. I however found it useless during actual running events. In fact i picked up some injuries whilst wearing the compression. I thought it would somehow “protect” me from injuries & I’m sure thats partly my own fault. I have however found it very useful for recovery. I like to wear my compression gear after workouts & even on rest days.
- Do you have any tips that has worked for you that I haven’t mentioned here? I would love to hear about them below.
- I hope you’re enjoying these articles, please let me know if there is anything else you would like to hear about.