Most runners have experienced tight calves. Running obviously places a heavy load on the calf muscles so we must be careful not to increase the load on these important muscles. But is the reason for our tight calves the same as what we think it is? Maybe not.
So why do we have tight calves? Usually, we’ll look at what we’ve been doing lately; the type of running. Perhaps more uphill running than normal, or maybe we’ve recently switched to a shoe with lower heel, or maybe an increase in faster training could have put an increase load on the calves.
But tightness in the calf muscles might not be that simple
So what do most people do when the feel tight calves, or even worse, a pull in the calf? Stretch the muscle to near breaking point, which is likely the last thing it needs. Often tightness in one muscle is a result of tightness in another. In this case, the calf is overworking because of a limited range of movement in another; most likely the quads. The problem with tight quads is that they don’t usually feel that tight. Unlike the hamstrings or calves, shortened quadricep muscles are not always apparent.
Even that knowledge is not enough though. What’s the typical quad stretch that we see runners do? Yes, the standing quad stretch with knees together. But they might need more than that. Here is an excellent article in Athletics Weekly on how best to stretch the quads.