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Calf Muscle Tightness

Bidisha Mukherjee Jun 22, 2019
Tightness in calf muscles is commonly faced by athletes, particularly runners; but it is not limited to them. We have highlighted the causes and treatment for this condition.
When one experiences tightness in calf muscles, it must be due to strain in the gastrocnemius or soleus muscle.
It is often accompanied with pain, tenderness, and swelling. In some cases, the condition worsens with activities like running. While in others, running may temporarily loosen up the muscles a bit, but they become tight again in the later part of the day.

Causes

When a minor tear develops in the leg muscles, it triggers muscle spasms. The involuntary contraction of the muscles badly disrupts the blood supply of the lower leg. As a result, leg muscles do not get sufficient amount of nutrients and become weak. In such a condition, the muscles tighten up further in order to protect themselves.
Athletes suffer from this condition mainly due to lack of flexibility in calf muscles. It happens when they do not stretch their muscles with proper warm up exercises before any strenuous physical activity. If they resume sports activities without proper rehabilitation after an injury, they can suffer from this problem.
Those who have a biomechanical problem repeatedly suffer from muscle spasms. Compartment syndrome is another factor that often affects athletes and sports persons. This occurs when there is an increased pressure within a muscle due to low blood supply or injury. This condition makes the calf muscles extremely taut.
Those who are not associated with any kind of sports can also experience pain and tightness in calf muscles after running, jogging, or exercising. Wearing high-heeled shoes can also lead to abnormal contraction of the leg muscles.

How to Get Rid of Tight Muscles in the Calf?

Calf muscle tightness is one such health problem that you cannot afford to neglect. Its proper treatment should start on time or else, it can lead to ankle injuries, shin splints, and various foot problems. If ignored for a long time, it can affect the knees, feet, hips, and even the lower back region.
Sports persons should consult a doctor or a sports injury specialist to identify the actual cause of leg muscle spasms.
➡ Doctors usually recommend deep tissue massage to relieve these cramps. The massage has a soothing effect deep into the muscle tissues, which in turn, eases off the tightness. Depending on the severity of the tautness, three or more number of massage sessions would be required for proper muscle relaxation.
➡ In case this problem arises quite frequently, doctors may conduct some special tests to check if it is caused due to compartment syndrome. This condition has to be corrected with the help of surgery and is followed by a rehabilitation program.
➡ People other than athletes can treat calf muscle pain at home. They should give a good amount of rest to their feet to get rid of taut calf muscles.

➡ It should be accompanied by application of ice to the painful site several times in a day. Resting and ice treatment should relieve the pain within 48 hours. If it does not, a doctor should be consulted.
➡ For both athletes as well as others, a stretching exercise program is a must after the pain and tightness are gone. This is done to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles. It should be continued for six weeks before you resume your regular sports activities.
While doing these exercises, if any pain is experienced in the calf, then you must stop exercising. The pain indicates that the injury has not healed up completely and you have to wait for some more time.
You can prevent any major injury to the calf muscles by avoiding their overuse during any activity. Moreover, those who are involved in strenuous physical activities must do some calf muscle exercises daily. This will strengthen leg muscles and protect them from any kind of damage.
Disclaimer: This is meant only to provide information. It is not to be substituted for a doctor's advice and treatment.