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How To Manage Tight Calves and Why They Tighten

The calf muscle group consists of the soleus, and the gastrocnemius muscles. Calf muscles can experience symptoms of gradual tightening which often get worse when running or can improve while running only to tighten up later.

The main reasons for this tightening are:

Compartment syndrome which is where muscles become too big for the sheath surrounding the muscle causing pressure, and sometimes pain and restricted movement.

A biomechanical problem in your running style which will require orthotics or possibly retraining in form and technique. For these issues see a sports injury specialist or podiatrist may be recommended that can to a full biomechanical analysis.

Your muscles may have gradually tightened up over a period of months through repetitive micro tears that aren't given time to re-build and aren't stretched, or foam rolled out properly after exertion phases.

What to do about tight calves:Tight Calves

Have the flexibility of the muscles tested and undertake a course of regular calf muscle stretching exercises, and foam roll techniques which should be continued for at least 6 weeks.

See a sports massage therapist who can give a deep massage. It is likely that multiple treatments may be needed in close succession to help ensure the muscles doesn't regress back to their original condition.

Use a plantar fasciitis night splint to stretch the muscles over night.

Ice regularly when swelling occurs or after workouts involving the calves. A general recommendation is 10 minutes of applied ice once an hour. For many runners doing this twice in the evening after a run and once the following morning has been a solid recommendation.

KT Tape: The use of Kinesiology tape to help take pressure off overused muscles, reduce swelling and alleviate pain from injuries.