The short answer is NO; you should refrain from running if you have a calf strain, and that’s even if you have the best running shoes for calf pain.
A calf strain is a common running injury because a more significant percentage of running power is generated from the calf muscles, which is a potential area for muscular injury. Those who suffer a moderate or severe calf strain know that running with it is almost impossible.
However, if you suffer only a mild calf strain, it is often not clear whether or not you can run with a calf strain. Calf strains are usually graded as follows:
• Grade 1 calf strain: You experience mild discomfort when only a few muscle fibers are stretched. The muscle’s bleeding is minor, and while the muscle may be gentle with mild pain, it still has a normal range of motion and strength. This is the most one, and you’ll need about 1-3 weeks to heal.
• Grade 2 calf strain: You experience moderate discomfort with walking. The muscle will have strained or torn muscle fibers, resulting in more bleeding and a bruise. You will notice swelling and a noticeable loss of strength in some situations. People with grade 2 strain usually require 3-6 weeks to heal and get back to running.
• Grade 3 calf strain: This causes a complete rupture of the muscle and severe pain that can cause the inability to run. This severe calf strain results in significant bruising and swelling as the muscle pulls away from the connecting tendon. This muscle has a total lack of function, and you need about 6-12 months to recover fully. In the case of a complete rupture, surgery is often required.
Can I Run With Calf Strain?
Soleus and gastrocnemius are the two main types of calf muscles that make up the large part of the musculature at the back section of the lower leg. They are mainly responsible for the plantar flexion of the ankle.
A calf pull occurs when one of the calf muscles is stretched beyond its limits and, in the process, gets separated from the Achilles tendon. This makes it difficult for you to run, and you need to have a complete range of movement at your ankle joint before you can walk and then run.
If you are not sure whether your calf strain is mild or severe, you may want to check with a health care professional to help you understand the severity of the muscle strains and tears.
When Can I Start Running Again?
There is no direct answer to this; it mainly depends on the severity of your calf strain.
In minor cases like when the muscle is slightly strained but no muscle fibers have been torn, a few days resting should be enough to ensure you don’t worsen the calf strain.
You should only return to running when you don’t feel any spasms in the muscle. And rather than trying to run the same distances you did before the strain, start gently and run a shorter length at a slower pace.
With a grade 3 strain, for example, it is best to accept the help of a health care professional to ensure a safe return to your activities. More severe cases will require personal care. This may take some time, but it is important to allow your leg to heal before you start running again; otherwise, you will delay recovery and exacerbate the injury.
Should You Stretch A Calf Strain?
No, it would help if you didn’t stretch your calf strain. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you shouldn’t stretch your calf muscles for at least the first 7 to 10 days after the injury.
Keep in mind that your injured calf muscle fibers are trying to heal and knit together during this vital phase, and stretching to the point of pain will make them pull more apart.
Stretching can cause more damage and slow your calf strain recovery, thus extending your healing period. Instead, you can reduce the injured calf muscles using temporary heel raises on your shoes or crutches to reduce weight-bearing all together.
Hopefully, you have now seen that running with a calf strain can be dangerous. It is much better to refrain from running for a shorter period than to try and run through the calf strain and make the injury worse.
Running with the calf strain could take longer for your calf muscle to heal. In some cases, running with calf strain can also damage other areas.
Next Article: If you’d like to learn more, then the next article in this series looks at why your calf muscle gets tight when you run, and there may be some reasons that surprise you.