As a runner, you’re susceptible to a number of injuries and strains, especially in the legs. A calf strain can be the result of a variety of conditions, from mild stretching and pain to a partial tear or a torn muscle, notes Running Times magazine.
In fact, a calf strain can and should take you out of the running game for a few days at least. Once you’ve rested your calves, you can try running shorter distances by stretching beforehand and icing your calves afterward.
Apply ice to the affected area to help reduce any accompanied swelling and pain right after the injury, suggests the Runner’s Rescue website. Wrap a few ice cubes in a thin towel or plastic bag, and hold the ice to your calf for 10-minute intervals. You can also massage your leg carefully along with ice. This will help make for a more comfortable run next time.
Insert a heel support in your shoes before you run again. A calf strain is usually the result of poor support in the heel that strikes the ground. A cushioned heel support, purchased from a drugstore or running specialty store, can help protect your heel. This is especially important if you’re running with a sore calf muscle.
Stretch before you begin running. If you’re prone to calf strains and injuries, it’s important to warm up your calf muscles before you start. For the best stretch, stand facing a wall with your feet about 1 foot away from the wall. Carefully use your hands to lower your upper body to the wall while maintaining distance with your feet. Place your forearms against the wall and step your left foot back, pressing your heel into the floor. Feel the stretch in your calf for 10 to 20 seconds before switching legs and pushing your right leg backward. Complete this stretch after your run as well, suggests the Cool Running website.
Reduce your mileage until you feel 100 percent. Running long distances and pushing yourself to achieve more mileage could cause further damage and put an end to your running career. Start slow and work up to your previous mileage as your calf muscles improve.
If you experience throbbing pain or what feels like tearing that doesn’t seem to resolve with simple rest, elevation and ice, schedule an appointment with your doctor, as you may have a serious injury and should not run until you’ve been cleared to do so by a health care professional.
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