Runner’s Edge: Stretch Problem Calf in Different Directions

As a runner with chronic foot/leg pain, or as a massage therapist working on a client with this issue, you may need to be creative to find relief.

I’m going to address this article to the massage therapist, so if you are trying this on your own leg or foot, just keep that in mind.

First, try myofascial release (MFR) from the bottom of the foot all the way past the knee, deep stripping, petrassage and cross fiber friction.  Next, Stretch the effected area and do MFR and deep stripping again.  Go past each joint with your work, being mindful of the area behind the knee and the possible tender areas around the ankle.

If these techniques are not getting the job done, and the pain or tightness is still there, make sure you are stretching the effected area in different angles.  We were taught that the gastroc flexes the foot, but you must flex and move the foot in many angels to pinpoint the specific strand of the muscle that is feeling pain.

Usually, you must try several different angles of stretching to find the angle you need.

First, find the specific area that is bothersome. Hold your finger in the middle of the most painful or most tense area.  Have them flex their foot.  Have them push against your hand, with pressure on the big toe, little toe, side of their foot, etc, one at a time until you get the effected muscle to contract.

Once you find the problem spot, stretch it in the opposite direction, do MFR, compressions and deep stripping. You can also do ice massage and heat, which I discuss in another article, “Self-Care for Bruises,” and “Ice Massage”.

If you ever have any questions, email me and we can try to find a solution.

Ice Massage for Stubborn Bruises

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Use ice massage for stubborn leg, foot, hand or arm injuries.  I have also used it on the neck and shoulder, but those are a bit harder to make work without getting your client soaked with cold water.

Ice massage is very quick.

It is also a good idea to use a heated table cover and to cover your client with a blanket.

I use a cup especially designed for ice massage, and it’s very convenient but not essential.  Before these cups I used paper cups, filled them half-way with water and froze them.  When I needed them, I would simply rip the top of the cup off and was ready to go.

So, get your ice and 2 towels.  Put the larger towel under the area to protect your sheets and soak up any melting water from the ice.

Have your massage lotion or oil close because you will want to use it directly after icing.

Drape the 2nd towel over your shoulder, having it ready to blot any drops of melting ice.  There is nothing more uncomfortable than dripping ice-water.

On the focus area including at least 3 inches beyond the focus area, move the ice quickly back and forth in a circle, then blot the drips; move ice quickly back and forth, then blot, etc, until the skin is bright pink and the client tells you that their skin is numb to the touch.  This will take about 3-5 minutes.

Put the ice in a set, safe location, dry off the focus area as you are getting oil or lotion and immediately begin deep stripping on the most sensitive area, pushing towards the heart.

Use cross fiber friction as well as deep stripping, trying to feel for the knot(s).  Only do 4-6 passes with deep pressure. Next, widen the area on which you are working and assimilate all areas.

The next deep passes will need to wait for about an hour, after the area is warm again and the skin is not longer cold.  Stretch, use MFR, and NMT and deep tissue between sessions.

I will try to get a video of this out soon.  If you have any questions, email me. 🙂