Aching calf and pain

Calf pain refers to pain in the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg. Calf muscle strain is the most common cause of sudden onset pain, whilst compartment syndromes develop gradually over time.

 

Calf Strain

A calf strain, also known as a pulled calf muscle, occurs when the muscle fibers in the calf are overstretched or torn. This type of injury typically affects the two muscles at the back of the lower leg: the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The severity of a calf strain can vary from mild discomfort to a complete tear, which may require surgical intervention.  Symptoms include pain, swelling, and difficulty bearing weight on the affected leg. Treatment typically involves the R.I.C.E. protocol (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), along with gradual rehabilitation exercises to restore strength and flexibility.

 

Calf Cramp

During running, the calf muscles undergo repetitive contractions, leading to fatigue and potential cramping.  According to some specialists say muscle fatigue is the leading cause of calf cramps. The risks escalate, especially when these muscles experience fatigue when the temperatures are hot or when adequate hydration is neglected.  They often manifest as sudden, intense pain in the calf muscles, causing discomfort and hindering your performance.  It’s important to recognize the signs of impending cramps, such as tightness and discomfort, to address them proactively.

 

Posterior compartment syndrome

Posterior compartment syndrome is a medical condition characterized by increased pressure within the muscles in the posterior compartment of the leg, leading to restricted blood flow and potential nerve damage. This elevated pressure typically occurs during or after vigorous physical activity, causing symptoms such as pain, swelling, and tightness in the affected area. Prompt diagnosis and appropriate intervention are crucial to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment may involve rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.), as well as, in severe cases, surgical measures to alleviate the pressure and restore normal muscle function.

 

Lateral compartment syndrome

Lateral compartment syndrome can be acute or chronic the same as posterior compartment syndrome, only the pain is over the outside of the calf muscles.
It is probably more common as a chronic injury in long-distance runners. It can be characterized by increased pressure within the muscles of the lateral compartment of the leg, leading to pain, swelling, and potential nerve damage. This syndrome often arises during or after running, especially in cases of overuse or improper training techniques. The lateral compartment encompasses muscles responsible for ankle inversion and foot elevation. Symptoms may include tightness, numbness, and weakness in the affected leg. Diagnosis involves a thorough examination and, in some cases, imaging studies. Treatment typically includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation (R.I.C.E.), along with modifications to running activities. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to relieve pressure and restore normal muscle function. Runners are advised to address training intensity, footwear, and biomechanics to prevent lateral compartment syndrome and seek professional guidance for effective management.