Posted by: steve | 2009-05-27


I run about 50 km a week for the last 12 months. Last week I suddenly had a sharp pain inthe back of my one leg, in the muscle just above the ankle (feels like lower than the calf muscle - or the very bottom of the muscle). I rested for 10 days, and started a slow run. All went well, but the next day it suddenly reappeared. Very sore.

What muscle is this ?
What must I do to fix it ?

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Our expert says:
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Hi Steve

It sounds like it is the gastrocnemius, which is the calf muscle. There are two parts to the muscle, a lateral and medial one (outside and inside). The achilles tendon attaches to that muscle to join the ankle to the muscle, and it can sometimes become inflamed or strained.

I'm not sure this is what happened to you - was it a sudden pain during a run, or was it sudden AFTER the run? I mean, can you put it down to any specific event, or the way you landed. If it was very sudden, then a muscle strain seems the most likely cause. Or a tendon injury, based on where the pain is.

It's difficult to fix. Usually a muscle injury requires 2 weeks out, and you have to look at methods to speed up recovery. Things like physio are effective. Once that is done, then you can start strength work to improve its function, but not before. So you're going to be frustrated for a while, but then will need to build up very gradually. Perhaps the first session after the rest is not a run, but a walk, and then gradually re-introduce the jogging part, because the muscle is now weakened and needs to get back to full strength.

You might also try some heel raises to improve the strength, but this is something you really have to wait for before trying. Else you might make it much worse. So once it's stronger, then standing on the edge of a step and raising yourself up and down slowly with your heels hanging off the back is effective.

Good luck

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