Tight calf muscles is a common problem in athletes especially runners. The calf muscles are the Gastrocnemius muscle and the Soleus muscle.
The big muscle at the back of the lower leg is called the Gastrocnemius. It’s the muscle that’s visible from the outside of the body. Under it, and further down the leg is a smaller muscle called the Soleus.
The larger and most superficial of the two muscles, the Gastrocnemius, attaches to the heel with the Achilles Tendon and originates behind the knee on the femur, crossing two joints. The Gastrocnemius is the main propellant in walking and running.
The Soleus is used constantly in standing to maintain an upright position, and attaches below the knee joint and also to the heel using the Achilles. The Soleus is not visible when looking at the body from the outside as it lies underneath the Gastrocnemius on the rear of the lower leg.
Either or both of these two muscles can be strained or torn.
Both muscles act to plantar flex the ankle which means it’s used to point the foot away from the body. Attaching above the knee, the gastrocnemius also helps with bending the knee. In this position, with the knee bent, Soleus becomes the primary plantar flexor. A damaged Soleus will give you pain in the lower leg, and there will also be pain when you contract the muscle against resistance with the knee bent.
A calf strain may be more likely in athletes who have tight calf muscles, and the symptoms are a gradual tightening in the calf muscles which can get worse when running, or… improve while running only to tighten up later.
If you haven’t tried massage therapy for those aching muscles, make a call today. Make an appointment and experience the many benefits that Remedial Massage has to offer and we’ll also help you with some great stretching techniques.