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I started jogging 3 miles a day again a couple of weeks ago. I used to exercise regularly and eat better but stopped for a couple of years due to laziness and burnout. I recently started feeling some pain running down the back of my left calf from 6 inches below the knee to my ankle. There is no swelling or redness and my jogging is not hindered if I warm up slowly. I may have compensated for a sore right leg which had a bit of a pinched nerve feeling but would go away after jogging a bit. Funny thing is, my right leg feels fine now. I'm assuming that my calf muscles have contracted and need to get used to being stretched again. I may have over done it a bit with my left leg. I'm 45, slighly over weight, and I stretch lightly before jogging and do more intense stretching after jogging. I hate to skip a day or two of jogging because I've had such wonderful results with weight loss and I like the way I feel. Now sure however if I should take a break and maybe do bike riding for a couple of days until my lower left leg feels better. It really doesn't seem that bad though, I can go up and down stairs and I don't limp, it's just a bit sore and it's been that way for about a week. Does anyone have any suggestions? I don't want to stop because I want the muscle to remain flexible and not tighten up, but I don't want to do any damage either.
It sounds like muscle strain, which would be common in beginning a new program, so avoid hills and increasing your pace or mileage. Also, make sure that over-pronation is not an issue and double-check your shoes. In any event, get several different pairs of the correct footwear for you and rotate them out for your routes.
Some experts also recommend increasing hydration and a multi-mineral supplement (Calcium & Magnesium are important) because a deficiency can cause calf problems.
Finally, try a quality calf compression/recovery sleeve...that will add good support and aid in circulation.
Am I reading your post correctly in that you went from no running to 3 mi every day virtually immediately? If that's the case I'd back off a lot. It takes a while to get to that volume of miles. Very very few people can run every day. Your body needs time to rest.
In addition to the above advice you might try a foam roller on the calf. I'd be careful with stretching. If the Achilles is aggravated stretching can make it worse.
"Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."
-- From the song FM by Steely Dan
Given the location of the injury (you mention "from 6 inches below the knee to my ankle", that sounds more like a grade 1 muscle strain, possibly a soleus muscle strain. See, for example:
@ 5K: Ontario Mills Run, Ontario, CA, 25:19
Angels Baseball Foundation 5K, Anaheim, CA, 24:15
@ 10K: LA Chinatown Firecracker Run, Los Angeles, CA, 51:44
Great Race of Agoura - Old Agoura 10K, Agoura Hills, CA, 50:31