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Thread: Minimalist Running - Sore Calves page

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    Raven29's Avatar
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    Minimalist Running - Sore Calves

    Yesterday I went for a 4 mile trail run/hike and I used a pair of Speedo water shoes instead of my usual trail runners. This morning I woke up and my calves were very sore. I assume this is due to the technique of landing on the balls of my feet as opposed to my usual heel strike. Is there any exercise I can do to strengthen my calves or will they just adapt to the new running style over time?

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    Dirlot's Avatar
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    You can do calf raises etc...but probably the best think is to run barefoot. 4 miles is a long first time, build up slow and you will adapt.
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    Start off with shorter distances. All that impact that used to go into the padded heels of your shoes, your ankles, knees, and hips is now getting distributed to the soft tissue of your feet and your calves. It'll take a few weeks to really get used to it.

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    Took me 2-3 days to recover enough to run again when I first used my VFFs. Used to get the worst ever muscles cramps too, searing pain and a stone hard calf.

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    Be sure that your heel touches the ground - don't just run on the forefront of your foot. Land on the forefront, let the heel TOUCH the ground, then spring off again.

    And, start slow - it is a different muscle pattern, and your body will adjust.

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    AFAIK this is normal. It took me about 3 weeks for my legs to adapt, haven't had the problem since.

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    Gary Conway's Avatar
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    Take it really slow and give your calves time to adjust. Jump rope can help but the main thing is to really cut down the volume and progress slowly.

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    It can take a long time to get used to it. I have found that so long as I don't think about what my feet are doing, everything works a lot better. Trying consciously to run forefoot or midfoot only makes everything worse.
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    seaweed's Avatar
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    i used to get bad sore calves from barefoot running down hills. i was fine on the flat. so maybe as you were trail running you did some downhills?

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    Raven29's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the comments. The soreness slowly went away over the course of 2-3 days. It sounds like 4 miles may have been a bit ambitious for the first time running in minimalist footwear. My calves feel good enough now that tonight I will be doing my weekly Tabata sprint workout. I will probably wear my normal running shoes for this and afterwards go for a light 1 mile jog in the water shoes.

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