Pain, swelling, fatigue. What is happening to my calves?
Straining the calves occurs frequently, especially in people who spend many hours standing or have some type of biomechanical disorder such as flat or high-arched feet. It also often occurs in athletes, when climbing steep hills or cycling with an inadequate saddle height. Other factors such as the frequent use of high heels or inappropriate positions of the feet when sleeping may also end up producing significant overloading of the calves, which together with problems with venous return, especially in summer, can greatly aggravate strained or overloaded legs. Therefore, in summer it is common these symptoms can be camouflaged under the guise of "tired legs" or "swollen legs".
Normally, the person suffering from this condition cannot or will find it difficult to extend the knee fully with the ankle flexed and toes pointing up. It is also often accompanied by night cramps, which can occur mainly due to the existence of contractures in the calf muscles. For this reason stretching these muscles usually relieves the symptoms.
To address this unpleasant discomfort it is recommended:
1. To avoid sustained plantar-flexed positions (avoid high heels and avoid sleeping in a position with the toes pointing downwards)
2. To improve blood flow by placing legs up high, especially in times of extreme heat.
3. Using wedges to allow the muscle to be more relaxed, but avoiding overdoing this as it can cause shortening of the muscles.
4. Reduce the intensity of training when discomfort appears in a sustained manner.
5. Perform self-massage exercises to ease the load and favour venous return
6. It is always advisable to visit your physiotherapist to rule out that these symptoms are not "hiding" a more serious condition and so that he can show you correct instructions for self-treatment at home with 3TOOL to control the symptoms.
Dry needling and compression techniques on these contractures are very effective and can be very helpful.
In the following videos we show you some of the most common self-massage exercises that we physiotherapists show patients or athletes, so between sessions they learn to modulate and control the symptoms.
If after reviewing all of these factors and having received physiotherapy treatment symptoms persist, it may be necessary to consider the existence of structural factors that may need to be modified, for example by changing the footwear. In these cases it is often advisable to visit a podiatrist so he can assess if insoles may help correct poor foot biomechanics.