Calf Pain - How long of a break?

Hi all,

I know this is an old topic and, yes, I've done a search - but I still have a couple of questions.  So, I've been slowly ramping up my time in my KSO's.  I'm up to 30 minutes.  The last two runs I have developed *really* sore calf muscles.  (You would have thought that having been slowly upping my mileage since JULY that I would have had this happen earlier...)

I've done a "search" on here and the consensus is to rest them.  Couple of questions:

How long do I rest?  (My fear is that I'll lose fitness and any gains and will have to start over...  I have been painstakingly patient and persistant for months to get to this point, which is why this is so frustrating!!)

What activities should I do during my "rest" period to be proactive?  (I will stretch and massage of course... what else?)

Thanks!

Frank

Comments

  • Hi!

    Yea these calf problems are common, weird how weak our calves are from using ordinary shoes:)

    At least 1-2 days with no running before you start lightly again. Just run up until the point when you feel your calf tense or however you feel it...
    It's all about how often and how much you run compared to your resting period. You just need to feel it.

    Things you can do while resting your calves:
    Play wow or starcraft 2;) Do sit ups, push ups, stand ups, pull ups. Train kicks into the air for speed (or get a punching bag). Get a football (soccer) and try to learn tricks with it.
  • It partly depends on if it's just overuse pain or injury pain.  I know when I started increasing mileage in my VFF's my calves would be sore for a day or two after, and as it subsided I could go again and push a little further. Then a little over 6 weeks ago I experienced the other end of things--part way through a run I had a stabbing pain in my right calf and it wouldn't work its way out like I thought it would. I rested a couple days, tried again and it grabbed after a mile and I couldn't run another step, tried again a few days later, same thing, I ended up going for ART and it was about 4 weeks till I could run more than 5km with no pain again. Fortunately it healed in time for my first half(I went into the half not having run more than 7km at a time in 5 weeks), but I had to sit one race out in the meantime because I could only do 3k by then (2 weeks after the initial injury).

    From what the chiropractor who did my ART told me, if you're using a muscle a lot without having adequate recovery time, you form scar tissue in the muscles which decreases the stretchiness of the muscle, and the you can get tears or pulls or whatever a lot easier.  He treated it with ART (active release technique) and Graston technique to break down the scar tissue, icing it 3 times a day, a lot of stretching, and high dose omega 3 oil (supposed to be a natural anti-inflammatory and help with muscle recovery).  So, if you have some soreness and push it too much, this is what you could be looking forward to.  Now I'm on the bandwagon of giving more rest than you think. As well, my chiro recommended strengthening the muscle without aggravating it, by doing things like squats, lunges, toe raises, standing on one foot using toes instead of ankle to balance, one foot toe raises, etc.  I hope this helps you to be proactive and avoid the problems I had!
  • Funny I should see this thread today. I tried to comeback too soon today after a pulled calf muscle and had to quit in half a mile. The reason I got into barefoot running in the first was due to calf muscle issues. I would run a mile or so and then very quickly I would have a pulled calf muscle. I would take a week or so off, try again and then the same thing would happen again.

    I have since learned a few things about myself in the 6 months that I have been running in VFFs (generally pain free). First, I need a day off in between runs. It is possible that if I run on a consecutive day, and run less than I did the day before, it might work out for me but it is safer not to run on consecutive days.

    Second, if I do have a stabbing pain of any kind, as oppossed to just gettting gradually sore in the course of a run, stop immediately and take off several days. Trying to come back the first day it no longer feels sore isn't enough. Within a mile it will come back, and often the opposite lower extremity will also develop a similar problem.

    Third, start back gradually after taking time off to heal. I do a couple of miles, take a day off if no problems, maybe do 2 and a half on the next run, etc.

    This is all very frustrating for me. When I was younger I could run all the time with almost no muscle related injuries at all. Now, I have to pace myself and take the time to recover, whether from an injury free run, or if I overdo it. The only good news is that running BF or in VFFs make it much less likely that I will pull a muscle in the first place.

    If anyone has any suggestions on supplements or foods that tend to decrease pulled calf muscles I am all ears. I have tried stretching, not stretching, building up the leg muscles by walking miles and miles, etc. Nothing so far has helped except for getting rid of the running shoes and going BF or minimalist. So it would be nice if there were something else that would help.
  • Cla,
    Have you considered ART? As Taylor mentioned, it is an amazing treatment if you have scar tissue in your calf. You mentioned that it's a nagging injury, which leads me to believe there may be scar tissue. Like Taylor, I've been seeing a fantastic chiropractor who does ART and yesterday I ran 2 miles pain free after 5 weeks of no running due to calf pain, which was my first experience with a calf injury. I highly recommend it along with your other suggestions of not running on consecutive days and coming back slowly (both things my chiro said). It's been a test in my patience!!

    No
  • Thanks for all of the reply's.

    I think it's overuse and not scar tissue.  It's only happened for the last two runs.  

    I have been running 3X per week (Tues, Thurs & Sunday), so I have been resting between runs.  However, on the other days I'm either swimming (mon,fri) or lifting (weds).  Saturday is my rest day.

    RANT MODE:   ON!

    The really frustrating thing is that I didn't have any issues with my standard running shoes (srs) and now I'm dealing with what seems to be a common injury in n already slow and fragile building process.  I'm beginning to wonder if this is even worth the effort.  I miss my long runs and I don't want to wait a year to "see" if it will be "possible" to do them again because I tried to fix something that wasn't even broken.  However, I *do* like the feel of vff running over my srs - but this process is really testing my patience.  Statements like this concern me greatly:  "I ran 2 miles pain free after 5 weeks of no running due to calf pain, which was my first experience with a calf injury."  What?!  5 weeks?  I haven't taken 5 weeks off of running (let alone ONE week) in over 11 years.

    Please.  Someone tell me a success story that *didn't* involve a pre-exhisting running issue/injury.  Someone who just went from srs to vff intellegently with no issues.  

    Also, I don't have the $ for a chiro.  

    I'm beginning to wonder if this was a 4 month long mistake.  And the bottom line is:  if I can't run, it was.

    RANT/PITTY-PARTY MODE:  OFF!
  • Frank, I hear your frustration! I've been running 22 years and this is my first lay off in 12 years. I've been in my Treks since April 1st and only run on trails. My husband thinks it's an overuse injury because even though I only run 3 X each week,this summer I hiked 1 day each week, rode my bike 3 or 4 days and taught yoga twice a week. My calves have always been sore after  hiking in the White Mtns, but never sore after running. This calf cramp or knot has me perplexed. I just returned from a pretty painful ART treatment, but my chiro says it's coming along and I need to be patient. He doesn't think it has anything to do with wearing my Treks.

    Good luck!
    No
  • Thanks Noel!

    Sorry you're having issues as well.  However, your chiro says  your calf issues aren't casued by minimalist running - yes?  My issues are.  Which is why it's so frustrating.  I *wish* it was because I was lifting too much or biking too much or something else but it's not.

    Good luck to you too!!

    Frank
  • Frank,

    My first contribution here to someone else's thread. When I made the switch in summer of 09 from high-heeled cushioned ASICS Gels to VFF KSOs, I immediately noticed the calf aches. I run more miles than you by the look of it, and it was quite substantial ache at first. But I got through it pretty quickly. IN my old shoes I used to get pain in the quads and hamstrings; I occasionally had problems with shin splits, and I got more back pain in the old days as well. I still get sore in the calfs when I run hard in the KSOs but I consider that an acceptable swap. It usually goes away pretty quick -  i engage in walking warm-ups and cool-downs, and also Isolated-Active stretching, and in warm weather try and get in cold water pretty quick, all of which helps considerably. I would not want to suggest that you try and run through this, but I might politely suggest that it is collateral damage! I know that Vibram strongly recommend that you convert slowly, surely and carefully.

    Cheers

    Tony 
  • Hi Tony,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Yeah, I would get shin splints every once in a while with my regular shoes but other than that - no pain.

    As I said earlier - I really *do* enjoy the feeling of running in the VFF's - much more than my high-heeled marshmallow nike's.  I just don't want to take two steps forward and three back.  I've been slllooooowly building up - litterally adding only a minute or two per *week* to my vff run times.  That's part of the frustration as well - I was going "by the book".

    I hope it is just collateral damage.  Right now, my calfs feel fine.  Another good sign is that it's affecting both calfs.  I'll skip a "run" day and give it until Sunday and go out again.  If my calfs tighten up - I'll stop.  

    We'll see.

    Frank
  • I was going "by the book".


    That might be a small part of the problem - you have to go by what your body is telling you on any given day or any given run, and not do it according to an artificial schedule.  A schedule can be useful at first to get used to the idea of taking it slow, but some people can transition quickly and others can't - your body isn't a machine and it's not as simple as racheting up a notch every other day. 

    If you're really missing the long runs, you might start out your runs in your VFFs, then switch to your previous shoes.
  • Noel,
    I will ask my chiro about it. I tried just about everything else prior to getting some success by going BF or VFF but I didn't try that.
  • Noel,
      I went to get ART yesterday from a physical therapist. I can tell a difference, I am going to give it another day and try running tomorrow. She said that sometimes it only takes one visit.
      Lately I've been having calf pain, but I could go a mile or so with it. But I finally decided to try the ART. Hope it works.
  • Wow. Exactly what I'm going through.

    Took a few extra days off this week and we'll see how it goes tomorrow.

    Have gone as far as 3.9 miles in my KSOs and thought I was easing into it.
  • on 1289680231:

    Noel,
      I went to get ART yesterday from a physical therapist. I can tell a difference, I am going to give it another day and try running tomorrow. She said that sometimes it only takes one visit.
      Lately I've been having calf pain, but I could go a mile or so with it. But I finally decided to try the ART. Hope it works.



    Cla,
    I am so happy to hear you gave the ART a try. I've spoken to at least a dozen people who have experienced success after treatments. I'm also using a foam roller and I can see how helpful it is!

    I've  had 7 sessions and I'm on a discharge plan. I see him Monday and then not for a month. My calf is feeling good. My knee on the same leg is nagging, but I'm hopeful it's just a flare up of my arthritis.

    Keep me posted on how you are doing!!
    No
  • on 1286996315:

    Hi Tony,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Yeah, I would get shin splints every once in a while with my regular shoes but other than that - no pain.

    As I said earlier - I really *do* enjoy the feeling of running in the VFF's - much more than my high-heeled marshmallow nike's.  I just don't want to take two steps forward and three back.  I've been slllooooowly building up - litterally adding only a minute or two per *week* to my vff run times.  That's part of the frustration as well - I was going "by the book".

    I hope it is just collateral damage.  Right now, my calfs feel fine.  Another good sign is that it's affecting both calfs.  I'll skip a "run" day and give it until Sunday and go out again.  If my calfs tighten up - I'll stop.  

    We'll see.

    Frank


    Hi all,

    Thought I'd provide an update:  All is well!  I took a day off and was fine the next run.  I continued to add two minutes a week and am now up to 40 minutes! I feel great (knock wood).  They keys (as always):  don't overstride.  Don't to too hard.  Stretch.  Be consistant.

    Frank
  • you need to read your body... I have had to take from 1 to 4 days off a time... last I ran 4 miles than 2 on a treadmill then within a few days my left calf felt like it had sprained I stayed off that leg as much as possible for about 4 days then tried a one mile run, and within another day or two I'm now back up to 3 miles barefoot.

    Good Luck!
  • Noel,
      Thought I would get back to you after taking up your suggestion of ART. I only went once to get it. The PT gal said that often once is enough, but to come back if I needed it. I went in  November, and didn't notice much of an improvement in my running but due to weather I stopped running much anyway and thought I would take off a while to give the ART a chance combined with a long rest. I could definetely feel it when the ART session took place and I thought then that I was pretty much giving it one shot and that would be it given my history of trying a lot of things in order to get back into running.

      Anyway, with the weather warming up I have started running again taking in all the lessons I have learned the past couple of years in combination with the ART treatment. So far, so good. I am gradually running  a bit more each week and forcing myself to take off at least every other day, and sometimes more. It is tough to force myself not to run like I did a few decades ago but I guess we can't stay 20 forever.
    CLA
     
  • on 1301289701:

      Anyway, with the weather warming up I have started running again taking in all the lessons I have learned the past couple of years in combination with the ART treatment. So far, so good. I am gradually running  a bit more each week and forcing myself to take off at least every other day, and sometimes more. It is tough to force myself not to run like I did a few decades ago but I guess we can't stay 20 forever.
    CLA
     


    CLA,
    So good to hear from you! Glad you are able to gradually increase your run.

    I can identify with your comment about not running like you did a few decades ago. When I was in my forties, I was racing quite a bit and completed seven marathons. Now I can't run one mile at the pace I ran entire marathon at! It has been difficult at times for me to accept this decline in speed. Transitioning to all trail running has helped. However those times when I do get on the treadmill, or poor winter trail conditions force me on the road, the slow pace slaps me right back in the face reminding me of how slow I've become. That being said, I am thankful that I am still able to run at all.

    I have cut from 5/6 runs (in my forties and early fifties) a week to 3 x weekly in my sixties. Hoping for longevity!

    Good luck in your comeback!
    No
  • Yep, I too have calve soreness.  Only after a 2 mile, sprinting/jogging test in my KSOs.    Its been two days,  I'll try to get back to PT on wednesday.  For now, I'm going to work my back with Marine Corps Pull ups, and some sit ups/ isometric holds.
  • I have heel spur that they said the only way that I would get relief is surgery until I found these shoes. I am not kidding. Have no more problem with my spur. My wife seen what relief I was having and she got her a pair we both work on concrete for 8 hours a day. We love them. I wish you would put more styles in wide. Thank you keeps up the great work orthofeet. I have 3 pair of the men's shoes and love them.
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