Identifying Tight Calf Symptoms
It might seem obvious that you will easily be able to identify whether or not you suffer from tight calf muscles. That is not always the case because tight calf symptoms can actually be the culprit behind a number of other lower leg maladies. Problems like calf pain, foot pain, heel pain (plantar fasciitis), Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, knee pain and even hip and back pain can originate with tight calf muscles. That’s why it’s important to recognize tight calf symptoms when they first begin.
Tight calf symptoms include a gradual tightening in the calf muscles which can get worse when running or improve while running only to tighten up later.
Tight Calf Symptoms & Causes
The symptoms of a tight calf muscle are much different from a calf strain. When a muscle is strained, the muscle is stretched too far. If you suffer from a calf muscle strain, you will typically feel a sudden sharp pain at the back of the lower leg. Depending on how severe the calf tear is, you may be able to continue in some discomfort or you may be in severe pain and unable to walk. Calf strains can be very painful and should be treated by a physician.
Almost everyone has at least mildly tight calf muscles and exhibit some tight calf symptoms. This is because many of us spend a lot of time every day sitting while we work, eat, drive, watch television or work on a computer. When you are seated, your knees are bent and are flexed at a 90 degree angle. In addition to your knees being bent, your feet are usually in a relaxed forward position (plantar-flexed). This is especially an issue for women who wear high heels because their feet are automatically pointed downward in a plantar-flexed position because of their high heels.
So why does all of this sitting help cause tight calf muscles? It’s because the position of your knees and your feet while you are sitting brings your calf muscles to a shortened position which results in tight calf muscles. After sitting for years, you start to lose strength and flexibility in your tight calf muscles.
Tests For Tight Calves
Try these two tests to see if you have tight calf symptoms:
1. While sitting in a chair, lift your leg straight out in front of you and point your toes up towards the ceiling and then pull them back toward your knee. You will feel a stretch in your calf muscles when you pull them back. As you pull the foot and toes back toward you, you should be able to bend your ankle 10-20 degrees past 90 degrees. If you can’t, then you are exhibiting tight calf symptoms.
2. Stand with your feet hip distance apart and squat down. If your heels pop up off the floor while you are squatting, you have tight calf muscles. If you have full range of motion, your heels will stay flat on the ground while you bring your thighs in contact with your calves.
Why are Tight Calf Symptoms a Problem?
If you have tight calf muscles, they cannot effectively perform their jobs. If your calf muscles are not performing properly, then your other muscles and joints will have to work harder. All of this imbalance caused by your tight calf muscles can lead to a variety of aches and pains that can be located anywhere from your toes to your low back. Tight calf muscles by themselves can be painful, but tight calf symptoms may also be symptomatic of weakness elsewhere in the leg.