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Persistent soleus & calf strain - ideas?


I have been suffering from long term weak soleus and calves. Nearly every time I run it results in them tightening and being strained for a few days to a week after. I have newish supportive shoes and an efficient gait, I’m not new to running. I warm up well, usually walking for 5-10 mins before running and have removed hills from training.

I did have Achilles tendinopathy from January 2017 in both legs from over training. This is now manageable but even before this I had the same soleus and calf issues.

Can anyone suggest any exercises apart from the usual heal drops and raises, concentric and eccentric, with straight and bent knees, weighted sitting knee raises and the usual host of stretches, rolling, tennis ball massage etc?

Note, this is worse after riding, either brick runs or the day after a ride.

Many thanks,



  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425
    Toby, know what you are going through.

    I found that even extreme rolling (wooden rolling pin, cricket ball and knobbly tube) don't always get deep enough. If you can't get regular and aggressive sports massages try the following. works for me. Massage your calves with the blunt end of a BIC Biro, a little oil seems reduce skin bruising. Really dig in to find those sore spots and work them hard and regularly. See how it goes.

    Exercises. Stretches and strengthening have their place and i suggest you continue. However, they don't work the gastroc/Achilles/soleus complex the way you do when running. So try this. Stand on step with weight through one foot dropping the heel and bend the knee to get a soleus stretch. Now using leg muscles alone move your knee back to straighten your leg with minimal lifting of the body. Return to the bent knee and repeat. See how it feels. Try sets of 8 to 15 per leg. The more explosive the closer it mimics running.

    The above have worked for me so may be worth a try
  • I also have this problem which bizarrely tends to crop up after training sessions regardless of the intensity but less so after races?!

    The stretches described (very clearly, thank you) by Harry D sound very useful. I'm doing the heel drops from a step already but with out any knee bend, so I'll give this a try.

    Something I have found really helps, and more importantly, allows quicker recovery so I can train again or recover properly from training in the lead up to races, is strapping ice packs (the blue rectangular ones for cool boxes) to my calves for 10-20mins as soon after a session as possible. I occasionally repeat this after massage/rolling if calves are still tight and knotty. I'm sure it helps. Perhaps because it increases the blood flow and helps reduce inflammation. I've been told that often the problem is hypertrophy of the muscle fibres (natural response to training) but it leads to a sort of compartment syndrome where there isn't space for the enlarged fibres, which in turn leads to reduced blood flow, which in turn leads to slower recovery! By reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow, this deals with the problem and aids recovery!

    Hope this helps someone!
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