Calves Hurt When Running: Causes And How To Treat

Calves Hurt When Running: Causes And How To Treat

If you are a runner, you may have experienced calf pain. This is a common injury that can be caused by running too much or wearing the wrong shoes. Calf pain can also be a sign of a more serious injury. Keep reading to get a further explanation about the causes of why calves hurt when running and how to treat and prevent it. Let’s get started.

Your Calf and Ankle’s Anatomy

Your Calf and Ankle's Anatomy

The calf is the back part of the lower leg. The calf muscle group consists of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. The tendons of these muscles attach the muscles to the heel bone (calcaneus)

The gastrocnemius has two heads, which gives it its diamond-like shape. The soleus is a flat muscle that lies underneath the gastrocnemius. Together, these muscles help point the foot downward, raise the heel, and assist in walking.

The ankle is the joint between the leg and the foot. It is made up of three bones: the tibia and fibula of the lower leg and the talus of the foot. These bones are held together by strong ligaments. The ankle allows for limited movement in the foot.

The Achilles tendon is a strong band of tissue that attaches the calf muscles to the heel bone. The Achilles tendon helps to raise the heel when walking and running.

Types Of Calves Hurt When Running

Numerous Calf Pain Types

Chronic Calf Pain

Chronic calf pain is a common problem that can have numerous causes. The most common cause of chronic calf pain is overuse, such as from running or other high-impact activities. However, other causes of chronic calf pain include nerve problems, muscle problems, and circulation problems. 

Treatment for chronic calf pain depends on the underlying cause but may include rest, ice, heat, stretching, and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the underlying problem.

Dull, Achy Calf Pain

If you experience dull, achy pain in your calf, it could be the result of a number of different things. It could be something as simple as overuse or tight muscles, or it could be a sign of a more serious condition like a blood clot. 

If the pain is severe or accompanied by other symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor to rule out any serious problems.

There are a number of different types of calf pain, and the cause can vary depending on the type of pain you’re experiencing. 

Dull, achy pain is often the result of overuse or tight muscles and is typically not indicative of a more serious problem. However, if the pain is severe or accompanied by other symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor to rule out any serious conditions.

If you’re experiencing sharp, shooting pain in your calf, it could be a sign of a blood clot. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Other symptoms of a blood clot include swelling, redness, and warmth in the affected area. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.

Sharp Calf Pain

Sharp calf pain is a common type of calf pain that can be caused by a variety of factors. Sharp calf pain can be caused by muscle strain, tendonitis, or even a blood clot. 

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If the pain is severe, it is important to seek medical attention to rule out any serious underlying conditions. Treatment for sharp calf pain typically includes rest, ice, and elevation.

Biomechanical Risk Factors for Calf Pain

Biomechanical Risk Factors for Calf Pain

Knee-Dominant Running

Calf pain is a common injury in runners, especially those who are knee-dominant. The calf muscle group includes the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles, which work together to plantarflex the foot (point the toes). When these muscles are overloaded, they can lead to pain in the calf region.

There are several biomechanical risk factors that can contribute to calf pain in runners. First, if the runner has excessive pronation (flattening of the arch), this can lead to increased stress on the calf muscles. 

Second, if the runner has tightness in the Achilles tendon or the calf muscles, this can also lead to increased stress and, eventually, pain. Finally, if the runner has a history of calf injuries, this can increase the risk of re-injury.

Improper Foot Landing and Biomechanics

Improper Foot Landing and Biomechanics

Calf pain is a common complaint among runners, and there are several biomechanical risk factors that can contribute to this condition. One of the most common culprits is improper foot landing. 

When you land on your heel instead of your midfoot or forefoot, the impact of each foot strike is transmitted up your leg and into your calf muscles. This can lead to repetitive stress injuries and pain in the calves.

Another biomechanical factor that can contribute to my calves hurting when I run is poor running form. If you have poor running technique, your calf muscles have to work harder to stabilize your leg with each stride. This can lead to fatigue and pain in the calves.

There are several other biomechanical risk factors for calf pain, including weak ankle muscles, overpronation of the feet, and tightness in the Achilles tendon. Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly or that don’t provide adequate support can also contribute to calf pain.

Adduction or Internal Rotation at the Hip

Adduction is when the leg moves inward towards the midline of the body. This can happen when walking or running and is often caused by tightness in the inner thigh muscles. This can lead to the calf muscles becoming overloaded and causing pain. 

Internal rotation at the hip is when the leg rotates inward. This can happen when sitting for long periods of time or during activities such as biking or swimming. This can also lead to the calf muscles becoming overloaded and causing pain.

Addressing Calf Tightness

Addressing Calf Tightness

If you are a runner, you know that calf tightness is an all too common occurrence. There are a number of things that can cause your calves to feel tight, including overuse, dehydration, and poor stretching habits. 

While there are a number of ways to address calf tightness, one of the best is to focus on prevention.

One of the best ways to prevent calf tightness is to make sure you are properly hydrated. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of muscle cramping, so it is important to make sure you are drinking enough water each day. 

In addition to drinking plenty of water, you should also make sure you are eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of electrolytes.

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Another important way to prevent calf tightness is to warm up properly before your run. A good warm-up will help to increase blood flow to your muscles and prepare them for the demands of running. 

Be sure to include some light stretching in your warm-up routine, as this can help to loosen up your muscles and reduce the risk of injury.

If you are already dealing with calf tightness, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate the discomfort. First, try massaging the affected muscle group with a foam roller or tennis ball. 

This can help to increase blood flow and loosen up the muscles. Additionally, you can try doing some light calf stretches to help stretch out the muscles.

If you are still struggling with calf tightness, you may want to consider seeing a doctor or physical therapist. They can help to determine the underlying cause of your calf tightness and develop a treatment plan to address the issue.

How Long Does it Take to Treat Calf Pain?

How Long Does it Take to Treat Calf Pain

Calf pain when running is typically caused by overuse or tightness in the muscles and can be treated with a combination of rest, ice, and stretching. However, the amount of time it takes to treat calf pain can vary depending on the severity of the injury.

For example, if you have a mild case of calves hurt when running, you may only need a few days of rest and ice to feel better. 

However, if you have a more severe injury, such as a tear in the muscle, you may need several weeks or even months of rehabilitation before you are able to run again.

Types of Treatment for Calf Pain

Types of Treatment for Calf Pain

Your treatment strategy will be determined by the degree of injury, the tissues that hurt, and the underlying injury.

Your practitioner will carry out a number of strength, range-of-motion, and form tests if you’re in light discomfort and are able to move normally in order to identify the most likely causes of injury and develop a treatment strategy. 

To identify any form faults or inefficiencies raising your risk of injury, they may also collect a running record or do a biomechanical analysis if you are physically capable of doing so.

Your practitioner can specify the kind of treatment that can speed up your recuperation once the main reason for the injury has been identified, together with the existing degree of discomfort and restraint.

However, no matter how serious the injury, calf strain recovery is based on five fundamental components of training:

Muscle Activation

Building a neural pathway between your brain and your muscles to enable the recruitment of those muscle fibers during particular movement patterns is known as muscle activation. 

The brain’s link to a muscle set can weaken after an injury (or after years of relying on other muscle sets), making it more difficult to recruit and leading to forming compromises. 

Your physical therapist can “retrain” your brain to access the required muscle groups and promote optimal biomechanics through focused, specific exercises.

Muscle Strength

Once all of your muscles are “woke” and usable, muscle strength is necessary. It’s likely that a certain muscle group isn’t as strong as it should be to help counteract the strain from jogging if you’ve neglected it over time. 

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Depending on your demands, your practitioner can recommend certain exercises that take several weeks of focused effort (for example, addressing the tibialis anterior or getting those glutes moving!).

Movement Control

Movement Control

The next phase of injury prevention and sound biomechanics is movement control. You may start managing that power through movements that are specific to your sport once the foundation of activation and strength has been established. 

This could involve doing coordination exercises like split squats to work on hip control or pall of presses to strengthen your foot muscles.

Stability Training

Although stability training has a name that makes it sound like movement control, its purpose is to improve reflexes and responsiveness in the lower extremities. 

Numerous minute adjustments to factors like pavement slope, debris, or even internal balance are necessary when running. 

Your muscles must get practice reacting to unexpected stimuli in order to achieve this. Working on a balance board or responding to a light push while in a running stance are two examples of this.

Running Retraining

The most important step in permanently treating calf pain is retraining. Without treating the underlying problem that led to the injury in the first place, your pain will return eventually, even if the aforementioned tactics temporarily relieve it. 

Running form optimization for shock absorption, power generation, and injury prevention is a part of running retraining. 

You may address hip hinge, running cadence, ankle pronation, and a variety of other widespread form flaws that might cause calf pain when running, depending on the results of your particular injury and examination.

And that’s it – the essentials for treating calf discomfort injuries when jogging. It may seem a little ambiguous, but there are so many different reasons why calf discomfort occurs that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all treatment.

Instead, it’s critical that you obtain treatment tailored to your particular injury and concentrate on the aforementioned areas to improve your running technique and lower your chance of future injuries.



Is it normal for calves to hurt while running?

Calf pain while running can severely limit your workouts and affect your athletic performance, and it is just a plain drag.

Should I run with calf pain?

For those who have fallen in love with running, there’s no better feeling than lacing up your shoes and heading for a jog. Unfortunately, if you run often enough, you’re likely to deal with some calf pain at some point.

Should I run with tight calves?

Tight calves from running aren’t always painful—but they can sometimes lead to pain down the road. It’s best to address calf tightness after running immediately.


There are a variety of steps you can take to relieve calf discomfort while running, depending on the cause. However, it’s important to consult with a doctor if you experience persistent pain that doesn’t go away with conservative treatments. Following our blog to get all tips and tricks you need to know about your health, bike, or daily life now. Thank you for reading!

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