The back of the leg, just below your knee and above the ankle is called the calf. The calf muscle is used everyday while walking, running or jogging. There may be many causes of pain in calf, and if it is not treated in time, the pain might get worse. Calf pain is most common among people who have just started an exercise program like running or jogging. This is mainly because of wrong running techniques, running on hard surfaces, tight calf muscles and over enthusiasm in doing workouts like walking on the treadmill or jogging. People with flat feet or people who wear the wrong kind of shoes while walking or running might also experience pain in the calves. There are many other reasons of calf pain and we are going to discuss them in detail. To get a proper remedy for calf pain, you need to know its underlying cause.
Calf Pain While Running
There are several causes of calf pain and without knowing the cause, we cannot treat it. Pain in calf while running is quite common among beginners or those who have resumed running after a gap of several days.
Shin Splits: One of the main reason for pain in calf while running is weak shin muscles and tight calf muscles. This results in what is known as shin splints, which occurs due to strain in the calf muscles. If this is ignored and the person continues running despite the pain, stress fractures may form in the tibia which might make the pain severe. Running on very hard surface, incorrect running footwear and wrong placement of the foot while running all contribute to calf pain.
Achilles Tendonitis: Another likely cause of calf muscle pain that is encountered while running is Achilles tendonitis. When a rapture occurs in the tendon attaching the calf muscle to the heel, it is known as Achilles tendonitis. The pain is quite severe and you have to stop running for a few weeks to prevent further aggravation of the calf muscles.
Over Exhaustion: Sometimes calf pain can also be caused due to overuse of the calf muscles. Too much walking or over exercising can stretch your calf muscles which can cause pain in calf.
Over Pronation: One of the most common yet overlooked cause of calf muscle pain while running is a condition known as over pronation. The term over pronation means that while running, your feet are rolling over too much, which causes excessive pressure on the calf muscle as well as the Achilles tendon. This causes mild to severe calf pain which might get worse if not corrected. People with flat feet are also prone to over pronation.
Calf Pain at Night
If you experience calf muscle pain only at night, then there might be some special causes for it. Dehydration, deficiency of vitamins and minerals and restless leg syndrome might contribute to nocturnal calf pain that keeps you awake at night.
High Heels: One of the major causes of pain in calf in women is wearing high heels. If high heels above two inches are worn all day for weeks, the calf muscles shrink permanently and also become quite weak. When at night, the feet are in flats or sandals without heels, the calf muscles are forced to stretch, which results in pain in calf muscle.
Claudication: If there is an insufficient supply of blood, to the legs, it results in cramping of the calf muscles. It is also called claudication and is the most common cause of calf pain at night. Although the pain due to muscle cramps might be severe, its effects last for only a few minutes. To avoid calf muscle cramps, taking potassium and vitamin supplements is essential.
Thrombophlebitis: If cramping of the calf muscles occurs at night while sleeping, quite frequently, then it might be due to a condition called thrombophlebitis, which is nothing but inflammation and clotting in the veins. It is potentially a dangerous situation as the clots might break free from the calf area, and travel elsewhere in the body.
These were some likely causes of calf muscle pain. For treating pain in calf, you can apply a cold compress. Calf stretches and calf exercises performed regularly will help to eliminate calf muscle tightness which is the primary cause of pain in calf. Also proper rest after running exercises is recommended. If the pain is severe, anti-inflammatory painkillers might be taken to relieve the pain and swelling. Avoid wearing heels for some days, if the pain is due to wearing high heels. In any case, seeking medical attention is important, if you want to get to the root cause of such pain and take steps to prevent it in future.