Calf discomfort, especially on downhills

  • Creator
  • #21105

    Hi – I’m training for my first 50 mile trail race and have been reading through Training for the Uphill Athlete recently.

    In the book, it mentions listening to your body and puts forth a guideline to the effect of: If your body feels crappy two days in a row, it’s time to step back and re-evaluate things.

    Over the past 8 days, my calves have felt varying levels of discomfort. The discomfort is more pronounced in my left calf and is worse when walking down stairs or down a hill. It also seems to feel okay during exercise (11 mile trail run yesterday with 2,000 feet of gain/loss posed few issues outside of very occasionally feeling a slight tinge), and it feels the worst when I’ve been immobile and try to get going, after sitting on the couch, on the bus, or at my desk for an extended period of time. Biking seems to have no effect.

    Initially, I thought I was wearing worn-out shoes, but since buying new shoes, the discomfort has not gone away. And I feel it even when walking around barefoot.

    Any ideas on what may be wrong? Is the obvious answer to stop running completely for as long as it takes to completely go away? It’s confusing because it doesn’t feel terrible when I’m running.


Posted In: Injury & Rehab

  • Participant
    Dada on #21135

    Hi Coreyl93,

    What comes to my mind are two things:

    1. Inflammation of your Achilles tendon
    2. Fluids in your muscle (that’s what I had)

    You should certainly see a doctor.

    For 2.) I did use a blackroll (be aware of how to apply blackroll correctly here), compression socks and rested for a couple days.

    Good luck and let us know what you’ve been up to.


    coreyl93 on #21137

    Hi Dada – Thanks for the reply!

    For #1, I would expect to feel pain in my Achilles too, right? My Achilles feels completely fine. Discomfort is located in the middle of the calf muscle.

    I’ve been rolling daily, but I will try resting completely and wearing compression socks.


    Pete Dickinson MS,PT on #21159

    If you had a greater training block prior to onset of calf pain, then rest should be highly effective at decreasing your pain. Good job listening to this, as this is the exact type of thing that progresses to bigger issues if ignored and trained through. Rolling of the calf on a foam roll, kinesio taping, and switching to other cardio such as the bike are all good things to try in the short term. If you have failure to improve, I would advise seeing a physical therapist, or take advantage of my online therapy service. Other causes of calf pain include the back, ankle/knee/hip/spine mobility restrictions, fascial mobility impairment, leg length inequalities, and muscle tears of the medial gastroc.

    coreyl93 on #21215

    Thanks, Pete! I’ll ease back for a few days, switch to the bike later in the week, and see if it improves by the weekend.

    Right now I still feel pain/discomfort in my left calf just walking around, 52 hours after last exercise.

    Anonymous on #21288

    Another factor for these kinds of pain could be your movement patterns. Especially as you increase your running volume, your mechanics and running form will play a larger role, so paying attention to your technique on the downhills could help. Look as far down the trail as you can, which will keep your hips under your center of gravity and put less strain on your lower legs. Taking quick steps will also help with this, and will easier allow your glutes to absorb the impact.

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