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For the past couple months, the muscle on the outside of my right lower leg has been cramping within a mile of the start of a run. I did an 8 mile that was fine and then did a 6 mile a week later and the pain started. It has gotten better; it takes about 2 miles for it to act up. I would like to be rid of it though. I do not think it's ITBS. Possible overpronation maybe? Anyone have any suggestions?
How long have you been running? If a long time, have you recently increased your daily, weekly, or monthly mileage? Have you recently increased the frequency or intensity of your workouts?
If you haven't been running very long, the pain is understandable since your body will take a while to adapt to the sport. If you really are overpronating, the main muscle going up the lateral side of your lower leg, Peroneus (or Fibularis) Longus is involved in pronation (eversion) of the foot and could be overworked as a result. Once again, if you just started running the pain would be understandable, but if you've been running a while as an overpronator the muscle should not suddenly start hurting unless you have changed the length, frequency, or intensity of your workouts. That last item - intensity - is important because the Peroneus muscle is also a plantar flexor, which means a faster pace will use it more. I recently cramped mine up after a competitive 10k I did not train for.
Another item worth mentioning is the terrain you are running on. People who run in excess of a few miles are often running on roads, and most roads are convex, or canted to one side or the other for better drainage. Running on the edge of such roads in order to avoid becoming roadkill is a frequent cause of pain for those muscles like the Peroneus that tilt the foot from side to side in order to match an uneven running surface. I've tweaked mine good just running a 7-miler with only about half of it on a seriously canted shoulder. Took about a week to recover from that error.
If after considering the above items the pain is still a mystery, there's more to discuss. The main plantar flexor muscle of your calf (Soleus) is wide enough to be seen and felt on the side of the lower leg just to the rear of the Peroneus. Once again, intensity can crank it up (mine is still recovering from the 10k as well), but there's another muscle underneath it that can cause pain to be felt on the lateral side. The Flexor Hallucis Longus muscle is responsible for flexing the big toe, and it gets more work from increases in intensity and running uphill. While it would be logical to assume the muscle controlling the big toe would be on the same side as the toe, its tendon actually crosses over to the rear of the Fibula where the muscle lines the back of this bone. This arrangement gives the foot prehensile leverage and the ability to focus the toes into a point during push-off. I'm not sure yet if mine is also acting up, but it's been sore in that location for days.
Here's a visual aid for tracking your calf muscles... Hallucis...http://www.getbodysmart.com/ap/muscularsystem/footmuscles/flexorhallucis/tutorial.html
My favorite method for dealing with these calf muscles is to soap up my fingers and massage them in the shower, working from bottom up with strokes of moderate pressure. I will pause on stiff or painful knots to press for a few seconds or rub them with a circular motion. The idea is to alternately cut off and stimulate circulation in the area. Increased blood flow = faster healing. If you encounter areas of intense burning pain that do not respond in time to self-massage, there is the possibility of fracture or other problems requiring further medical attention. I sincerely hope your luck is better than that!
Meanwhile, there are other ways to change your luck with cramps. Make sure the hot weather has not depleted you of critical electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, to name a few. Loss of these important minerals through sweat may first become evident by cramping in your skeletal muscles, but in cases like hyponatremia, can eventually cramp your heart muscle, i.e.: result in arrhythmia or heart attack. Sports drinks usually supply some of these trace minerals, but also unneeded sweeteners - real or artificial. A healthy diet and possibly supplements will deliver the goods before it is too late to absorb them. As far as sports drinks go, I'll use the popular ones in a pinch - especially for carb-loading, but prefer to mix my own unsweetened version with purified water, a pinch of salt and Electromix.