My calves and shins like to annoy me. I've never written a blog post specifically about this, but I've mentioned my calf and shin issues many times when I look back through DailyMile or weekly training recaps. For as long as I can remember I have struggled with this off and on, many times resulting in me sitting on the side of the path desperately trying to ease the tension. You might recognize it - the calf tightness that isn't really pain, it's more like intense pressure anytime you land on the leg. It makes the legs feel like logs with no shock absorption, and it even feels that way when I try to stand on one leg to stretch the other. Anyone experience this, am I crazy? My husband says he's never felt anything like that.
While training for my first half marathon in 2009, I had consistent shin pain and calf tightness that resulted in skipped runs and extra rest. I talked to people about shoes, exercises, and stretching to help, but nothing really worked. The situation improved with additional training and time, until I again started pushing distance to train for my first marathon in 2010 when it all came back.
That time, I found a wonderful personal trainer who helped me with strength training and stretches that significantly decreased the instances of shin and calf pain. Yay, a breakthrough! I've continued to have some tightness off and on (don't we all?) but nothing like I used to, and it almost always goes away after I warm up for a mile or two. Until recently.
I've had a few concerning runs recently where I feel the pressure anytime I land or stand on the leg. Today was particularly bad, and it didn't even ease up after stretching or 3 miles with alternating running/walking. The issue is always worse the first run after a long run or speed workout too; today was following a track workout so I'm hoping that's why it was so terrible.
Even so, I'd love to know if anyone has had a similar problem and how you work with it - or have solved it. So far I've tried the following:
Ice - Only a temporary fix?
Stretching - A trainer taught me to lay with my leg at 90 degrees, using a rope to stretch my toe toward me to get the calf. Then, I do the same at each angle of the calf to hit all three of the muscles. This has been the most helpful by far.
Foam Rolling - I try to foam roll the calf muscles by stacking one leg on top of the other.
Compression - I tried running in compression socks in 2010 and didn't think it helped, but I might try again with the newer and fancier ProCompression and/or CEP socks. I've heard calf sleeves are good too, but I'm not sure if that is better or similar to socks. Right now, I use compression socks for recovery.
Massage - I have gone to Sports Massage to work on calves, and they always tell me how my calves are super tight. It definitely helps, but it is also expensive.
What have I missed? Anything you agree with, disagree with, or recommend? I'd love to hear suggestions!