Do you find your calves always stiffen/tighten with running? Let’s take a look at some potential reasons behind why the calf muscles get stressed.
1) Overload of the muscle due to inadequate muscle strength and power in the lower limbs.
Decreased lower limb strength can lead to the overload of the calf during the push-off phase of running. Our gluteal and quadriceps muscles play an important role in propelling ourselves forward. Without strength and endurance in these muscles, the calf muscle can become the sole driver of propulsion, hence can become fatigued and tired. Consideration also needs to be given to the calf itself in terms of strength and endurance, to handle the load placed upon it in running.
Ankle sprains are common in change of direction, pivotal or jumping sports. Ankle sprains cause pain, dysfunction, time off sport and often require treatment. Athletes who injure an ankle are prone to re-injure the same ankle and this can lead to to ongoing problems and chronic instability. Proprioception is a neuromuscular process concerned with internal kinaesthetic awareness of body position and movement. Proprioceptive training challenges the ability of the targeted joint to detect and react to afferent input regarding joint position. This training aims to help improve capabilities of this system in order to prevent primary and secondary injury. Read more
Some common factors associated with muscle tears are:
Dehydration – it is important to keep hydrated with fluids and electrolytes before, during and after sport activity to prevent muscle cramping and muscle tears.
Insufficient warm up – warm up before activity must be dynamic. This aims to warm up the muscle, increase blood flow to the muscle and facilitate neural pathways to muscle to activate the muscle. Should not do static stretching. Warm up should involve dynamic stretching and cardio work. Warm up should last approximately 10 minutes.
Fatigue and lack of strength of the muscle – muscles are more likely to tear if not strong enough to handle the tensile load put through the muscle in sport. Need to consider strength and endurance.
Lack of pre-season training and sports specific activities – it is important to ensure you adequately prepare for the sport you are playing by making sure training is specific and a good pre-season is done.
Foam roller is a useful tool to use as part of your recovery plan. It uses the principle of deep compression to help roll out adhesions or knots that develop over time. Rolling out these knots that are caused by over activity or under activity, will help to restore original muscle length, which assists in functionality.
Check out this exercise for foam rolling the glutes.
Hydration in sport is vital to replace the loss of fluid that our body perspires, which controls our body temperature as we utilize energy. If we do not replace this fluid we overheat and dehydrate, which may lead to a decrease in performance and an increased risk of injury.
To minimize dehydration, athletes need to drink enough in exercise to match their sweat loss. Read more
A stress fracture is a tiny crack in a weight bearing bone. It can occur in any part of the body but predominantly occur in the lower leg or feet.
Stress fractures are related to overuse where the supporting muscles become fatigued and no longer absorb the continuing stress of the aggravating activity such as running. As a consequence the stress transfers over to the bone and tiny cracks can form.
Possible causes of stress fractures could be: sudden increases in training frequency, intensity or duration; poor conditioning; incorrect technique; change in training surface; poor foot wear; or anatomical variations such as flat feet, or bowed legs or knock knees that may cause an overload on certain bones. Read more