Mysterious Calf Cramps

by - Wednesday, August 08, 2012

I've been noticing a less-than-fun trend on my runs lately.

About a mile in to my workouts, my calves start to seize up like crazy, to the point that it's painful every time my foot hits the ground.

Two totally pain free miles in my brand new @MizunoRunning Wave Inspires! #proof #fitfluential

I end up having to pull off to the side of the road and spend a solid five to 10 minutes stretching everything out. Usually after that, I can continue on my run without too much of a problem.

I've never really had this happen before, and I'm not sure what's causing it now, but it's starting to get extremely annoying.

I'm not sure if it's a heat and humidity thing, a dehydration thing (although I highly doubt that one) or is a result of something else all together, so I'm not sure what the best plan of attack is to prevent it from happening.

I've started wearing my compression sleeves more often to keep the blood flowing through my legs, but even that's not really helping.

Yes I am wearing my purple compression sleeves around the office today.
Purple compression sleeves totally match my black and white dress at work.

I'm usually pretty good about stretching after my runs, and I drink a ton of water during the day, so I don't think it's either of those things.

Anyone have any other suggestions or tips for how I can prevent this from happening. The last thing I want is to have this happen in the middle of a race when I'd lose valuable time trying to get everything to loosen up.

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  1. The answer is your shoes.

    Not your running shoes, the shoes you're wearing in the second picture.

    HEELS. GET RIDE OF THEM. You're shortening your Achilles all day long.

  2. Rid, rather, not ride. Stupid auto-complete.

  3. The first consideration that comes to mind is the heat and hydration. When swimming, my calves cramp up a lot when I get dehydrated. Since it's so hot outside still and you think you're drinking enough water before you start, drink more. and carry a water bottle so you can drink during the run.

    The other thing that it could be is form. Check out some youtube videos on chi running. When you run with a forward lean and large muscle group push you should be able to lift your feet off of the ground instead of pushing off, thereby not engaging your calfs as much. Once you get used to the form or want to speed up you can start pushing off of the ground again with the foot (engaging the calf), but when I get calf problems like that I find lifting the foot rather than pushing off will help the cramp go away.

    fwiw, that's my 2 cents.

  4. I've had calf cramps this summer as well. I've found that having some potassium ( e.g a banana or Gatorade) makes them go away. I've also been wearing my calf sleeves and stretching my calves regularly. Good luck!

  5. Try moresalt / electrolytes.

  6. More salt (that was supposed to be two words)

  7. hmm. i have charley horses in the middle of the night sometimes (had one early this am in fact) which i am imagining are similar to what you have - except mine are super intense and only in one calf at a time. i've always assumed it was an electrolyte thing or possibly a dehydration thing (but i'm drinking lots of water these days). i need to get back in a habit of compression socks though! do let us know if you find anything else that helps.

  8. Esther4:37 AM

    Second the electrolyte-related comments above: I started getting bad calf cramps - at first I tried increasing my water intake throughout the day (although I was already drinking a ton), but then it occurred to me that by doing that I was actually flushing electrolytes and sodium out. I started using Nuun tablets or eating bananas on days when it was particularly hot for a workout or when I worked out for a long time, and the cramps went away.

  9. Kaitlyn6:17 AM

    I had this same problem - HEELS. When I lived in the city, I would wear heels - even if I just wore them around the office and commuted in something else, I had crazy calf pain. Totally worth ditching the heels - those calf pains are awful.

  10. As others already noted: electrolyte loss, principally potassium. Happens during summer running whe you're sweating so much.

  11. [...] By Jess on August 9, 2012 Thank you for all your suggestions on yesterday’s post about my mysterious calf cramping issues. I definitely appreciated all the [...]