If you’ve ever gotten a calf cramp while jogging or running, I needn’t tell you how alarming the pain is, and how that sometimes, it can take forever for it to finally heal up, in that you can resume running without worrying that it will come back.
Sometimes the cramp doesn’t come back with the suddenness and intensity of the first time, but every time you jog or run, it starts acting up to the point that makes you think, “Gee, if I keep jogging, it’s going to come on full blast and really disable me, so I better quit.” This can go on for weeks and weeks, cutting your jogging workouts short, or making you eliminate them altogether.
In between, your calf may feel perfectly normal, and this is what prompts you to continue doing jogging sessions. You keep thinking that it’s finally healed and won’t come back. But then you step on the treadmill and sure enough, it starts beckoning for you.
I had this problem. My cramp seemed to have gone away completely, until I got on the treadmill. There’s nothing about a treadmill that brings on a calf cramp; it’s just that it’s cold now and I don’t run outdoors unless it’s at least 75 degrees.
The treadmill running that brought it on in my case involved using the incline to 15 percent. Ironically, using the revolving staircase at its highest speed did NOT bring it on. I’d do speed intervals at level 20 and alternate with slow intervals to recoup. This is interval training, and I’d spend a total of 45 minutes on the revolving staircase. I do not hold onto the rails at all, so my legs do 100 percent of the work, and my calf felt perfect every time.
So I began wondering what it is about the revolving staircase that protects my calf from getting cramped up. How was my foot-strike or foot position different? I thought, if anything, stair stepping should make it worse, especially since at level 20, I don’t step — I actually trot or jog the steps because they move so fast.
The only difference I could think of was that 1) with the revolving staircase, I was constantly on the balls of my feet when doing the level 20’s. And when I was not trotting, I was still essentially on the balls of my feet because part of my foot would hang over the stepping surface with each step. However, on the treadmill, my feet were flat and completely on the tread with each foot-strike, and because the surface was inclined, my calves were subjected to a stretch with each foot-strike.
I decided to do my incline jogging on the balls of my feet. It worked! I was able to last a lot longer before I began feeling the cramp starting to beckon. So if you have a calf cramp, jog on the balls of your feet until you know for sure the cramp won’t come back again.