Why we overuse our calves

mobility running form running injuries Sep 09, 2021
man and woman running on the beach

Calf injuries are common amongst athletes such as runners, cyclists and triathletes and they can be very frustrating and difficult to manage.

The good news is, once you understand why you could be overusing your calves, which can cause pain and tension in the process, it becomes easier to make a few tweaks to your running form and find a long-term solution.  

In a recent video, I highlighted five ways to avoid calf strain when you run.

1 Practice a forward shift rather than a forward lean

Practice a forward shift rather than a forward lean when you run. This is a subtle, yet important distinction when running. When you shift forward, you’re shifting your weight forward as a stacked, connected unit. Leaning implies that you lean forward like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We want a shift rather than a lean to avoid unnecessary strain on the calves and Achille’s tendon.

Also see my blog on why controlling your Center Of Mass is vital for running.  

2 Lengthen your body when you run

When you walk or run, your head should be balanced on top of your spine and neck rather than leaning too far forward as this can directly overload your calves. In a recent blog on Why Your Posture Matters In Running, I talk about head position in detail. It’s important to think about lengthening your body when you run and practice soft, easy breathing with a relaxed core.  

3 Focus on a relaxed spine

You need a relaxed thoracic spine that rotates from side-to-side when you run. This will help you achieve healthy contralateral movement and put less strain on your calves.  The more relaxed you are when you move, the better.

If you really want to create more synergy between your hips, spine and shoulders, learn to relax your breath and unlock your spine’s true potential when moving and running, my Slinky Spine Program is for you. This 10-class exploration is life-changing. 

4 Avoid intentional forefoot running

No, running on your forefoot and pushing weight onto your toes will not make you faster, nor will it reduce your risk of injuries. Studies have proven this.  

A more economical way to walk or run is to use your whole foot so that you land on the outside of your foot and move up and off your big toe. This will prevent heel or forefoot striking and take pressure off your calves and Achille’s tendon.  

5 Run with soft ankles

Running with relaxed feet and soft ankles is key to making the whole movement pattern feel fluid and free. When you walk or run you should be able to wiggle your toes because then you won’t have excessive foot and calf tension. Secondly, you want to relax your ankle when your foot comes up in the air.

In my 10 Running Cues Program, I cover all these points in detail to ensure that you run with the correct form and have the chance to breathe life, energy, awareness and competence into your running while minimising the risk of injury.


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