Soleus and calf muscular fatigue: causes and remedies
Calf fatigue is a problem that many runners (and other athletes) may suffer.
If you are among those that suffer it, in this article you will find possible causes and some good remedies to avoid it and/or treat it.
Let’s see a little of the anatomy of calves and what muscles are in there.
Know your calves
Calves are made up of two muscles: the gastrocnemius and the soleus.
Both gastrocnemius and soleus join with the Achilles tendon, the strongest and thickest tendon in the human body.
Gastrocnemius is the largest calf muscle, it has two parts or “heads” that create a diamond form (and that is why in some countries it is called “twins”).
Gastrocnemius collaborates in the flexion of the knee articulation and the arch flexion of the ankle.
Soleus is a wide and thick muscle just below gastrocnemius, so a large part of it may not be “seen”.
The main function of soleus is to collaborate in the arch flexion of the ankle.
What can cause calf muscle fatigue?
Calf muscles have an outstanding importance during stride when you run.
Besides collaborating in the flexion of your knees when you run and in the movement of your ankles, calf muscles have two important functions for a runner.
One of these functions is its contribution in the impulse forward of your body in each stride.
However, even if many believe that it its main contribution, truth is that the calf muscles are more activated in the support phase.
That is, the calf muscles are key when your feet make contact with the ground, contributing to balance, absorption and distribution of impact.
As a consequence, your calves support enormous loads in each stride (between two and three times your bodily weight).
That, added to the following factors, may be the great cause of calf fatigue:
- Low muscle development
As in every muscle in your body, calves need adequate stimuli to make themselves strong.
Undoubtedly running is a good way to make them stronger, but it also can be a way of “destroying” them.
How? If you train hard every day, without letting them get rest and reparation, problems will undoubtedly arise.
Besides running, it is advisable to include a routine of leg strengthening, which includes your calves.
- Bad stretching
If you demand too much of your training, it is very important that you include good stretching for your calves.
If you are one of those who finish running and dedicate 1-2 minutes to stretching your legs, it is possible that this is one of the causes of calf fatigue.