Calf pain, Condition

Calf Pain When Running: Causes, Prevention, And Treatment


Running is a great way to get in shape, stay fit, and relieve stress. However, running can also put pressure on your lower body joints like your knees, hips, and ankles. When you run, your calf muscles contract to stabilize the joint movement of the knee. But if you haven’t warmed up properly or don’t stretch after exercising, this can lead to soreness or pain in the back of your calf (aka calf tightness).

The good news is that there are many ways to prevent this injury. Here are some causes and treatments for calf pain when running.

Causes of Calf Pain

Several conditions can affect the calf muscles and other tissues around them. These conditions include:

Muscle Cramp

Calf muscle pain is a common problem among individuals who exercise regularly. Muscle cramps in calves are typically temporary but can cause pain and discomfort.

Calf muscle cramps are caused by dehydration, electrolyte loss through sweat, lack of stretching, extended physical exertion, and weak muscles.

Muscle Strain

When the muscular fibers in the calf rip, either partly or entirely, there is a calf muscle strain.

The intensity of the pain will determine the symptoms, but the majority of people will suffer sudden, intense pain and soreness in the calf muscle region.

Arterial Claudication

Calf pain can occur as a result of constriction or obstructions in the arteries that carry blood to the legs. Arterial claudication is the medical term for this condition. Because walking necessitates blood flow to the lower legs, arterial claudication can cause discomfort during walking.

Calf discomfort can occur when blood is unable to flow freely due to constriction (claudication). At rest, a person with arterial claudication will feel OK, but after a few minutes of walking, they may feel pain.

Achilles Tendinitis

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone and is a strong, fibrous band. If a person’s calf muscles are very tight, the Achilles tendon may be put under additional strain. Calf discomfort might develop as a result of this.

People who have recently started an exercise program or who undertake repeated activities are more prone to develop Achilles tendinitis. Stretching regularly might help to alleviate discomfort.

Compartment Syndrome

Compartment syndrome is a painful disease that affects the calf muscle or both legs following trauma or serious injury. It happens when extra blood or fluid grows behind a ring of tough tissues that cannot extend effectively in the body. This fluid causes pain, swelling, numbness, and tingling in the lower leg by exerting additional pressure on the nerves and blood vessels.

Chronic or exertional compartment syndrome is another kind of compartment syndrome that happens when a person feels discomfort when exercising.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a condition in which a person’s nerves are damaged as a result of diabetes. High blood sugar levels can frequently cause nerve damage in the body, generally beginning with the hands and feet. The tingling and numbness can sometimes spread to the calf muscles, causing shooting pain and discomfort.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a disorder that affects the tissue on the bottom of the foot called the plantar fascia. Because the calf muscles cannot support the foot if they are excessively tight, a person is more prone to develop plantar fascia. Plantar fasciitis is characterized by foot discomfort upon awakening and difficulties moving the foot.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is caused by a blood clot that develops in one of the veins in the leg. This disorder can cause significant discomfort and reduce blood flow to the legs. DVT is more prone to occur in those who have sat for extended periods, such as on a plane, or who have high blood pressure.

Deep vein thrombosis symptoms include calf discomfort, which often gets worse when you stand or walk. Due to a lack of blood flow, a person’s leg may swell and develop a red or irritated area.

Prevention of Calf Pain

Here are some calf pain prevention tips:


Stretching is one of the most essential strategies for avoiding calf pain. Stretching before and after all activities aids in the healing and strengthening of the calf, reducing discomfort and damage in the future; to aid muscle repair and growth, make sure you have adequate time to relax in between sessions.

Stay Hydrated

Another important way to prevent calf pain is to stay hydrated; this is because dehydration causes muscular cramps.

Gradually Increase Exercise

When beginning or increasing exercise, it’s critical to do it gradually. An injury might occur if you increase your exercise level too quickly. Work with a personal trainer or find an exercise regimen online.

Diagnosis of Calf Pain

To perform a proper diagnosis, the doctor will perform a physical examination and inquire about your medical history. In a situation where the physical examination result diagnosis is not clear, the doctor may require some imaging test like X-ray or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI); in a more severe case, blood tests may be required.

How to Treat Calf Heel

The severity of your calf pain determines how you should treat it. Calf discomfort can be caused by a variety of diseases, some of which are readily mistaken for others; as a result, you should seek medical advice before embarking on a treatment procedure on your own.


In most situations, the first therapy is to rest the muscles and allow the inflammation to subside. When it comes to calf discomfort, this is frequently the only thing that has to be done. A walking boot and crutches may be useful if your symptoms are severe.

Heat and Ice

For muscle or tendon-related calf discomfort, ice packs and heating pads are two of the most popular therapies. One may be preferable to the other depending on your circumstances.


Some causes of calf discomfort might be relieved by stretching the calf muscles and tendons. To avoid additional injuries, it’s critical to stretch regularly and employ the appropriate technique. Consult a physical therapist to develop a stretching program that can help you recover from your injury.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most often recommended medicines, particularly for individuals suffering from calf discomfort caused by tendinitis, muscular strains, or cramps.


This is the last treatment procedure. This is always recommended when other treatments could not bring the desired results.


Calf muscle pain is common in people who run, walk, or do other exercises. The pain commonly starts in the back of the lower leg and goes down the calf to the heel. Pain may be felt during or after activity and can make it difficult to walk or stand.

There are several reasons why you might experience calf pain when running, such as overuse injury from too much exercise, a previous injury that has not healed well, or a work-related injury.

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash