Tight calf muscles have been a common issue among athletes, especially those who run. It is important to note that the calf muscle group is comprised of the gastrocnemius muscle and soleus muscle.
What are the indications?
If an individual has tight calf muscles, he/she usually ends up with gradual tightening in the muscles that steadily worsens when running or improves while running, only to tighten up later.
What are the possible causes?
Tight calf muscles are usually caused by compartment syndrome. In this condition, the muscle enlarges and could no longer be accommodated by the surrounding sheath, thus causing pressure which leads to pain and limited movement.
The biomechanical issues of the foot or due to a running style increases the stress on the calf muscles. This can be identified with a gait analysis on a treadmill. In such instances, orthotic inserts are prescribed to fix this.
The muscles might have tightened gradually over a period of months due to lack of stretching before and after training. The small-sized tears in the muscles causes spasms. If there are spasms, the blood could not easily reach them. If there is lack of blood and nutrients, the muscles tighten and eventually weaken.
Management of tight calf muscles
The flexibility of the muscles must be tested and undergo a course of regular stretching that should be continued for at least 6 weeks.
A sports therapist must be consulted so that deep massage is carried out. Depending on the severity of the injury, 3 or more treatments are needed. It is vital to remember that the gap between treatment is not prolonged since they might regress to their original condition.
A night splint for plantar fasciitis can be used which works by stretching the muscles over night or prevent them from tightening. The individual might take some time to get used to the night splint but highly effective in stretching the calf muscles. A calf stretcher can also be used which is available in different designs.