one calf more sore than the other

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by Stephanie, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. Stephanie

    Stephanie Barefooters
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    Hello everyone,

    I think this is the place for my question.

    I've been running barefoot or in Vibram FFs for several weeks now, starting back in October. I had some coaching w/ a barefoot running coach, who is relatively pleased with my technique. After our session, he sent video before-and-afters showing where I improved and what I need to work on. But I can't afford to hire him again right now, so can't ask him this question...

    I've got one calf that's more sore than the other -- well, actually, my left side doesn't feel sore at all, only my right. It's just basic DOMS really, nothing extreme, no injury, just delayed soreness after shifting to using underworked muscles. My training intensity is at the level of 5 mins of technique drills + 20 mins of walking/running practice, focusing on improving technique, not speed or distance. I rest or do unrelated exercise (like yoga, rowing machine, or upper body weight training) for the 24-48 hours inbetween. And I get sports massages.

    So, what could I be doing wrong or not doing at all that might be causing me to be more sore in one calf than the other? Could it be a technique or posture thing I need to improve? or is it just too much too soon? Or is this just normal, that one side of the body can feel more sore than the other?

    Thanks for any help and tips.
     

  2. Hobbit

    Hobbit Barefooters
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    Hi Stephanie,
    that's funny, just now I have exactly the same problem. In my case I know where the imbalance comes from: an old weakness in my right ankle (accident in my youth) makes me compensate on harder runs with my left leg and after the run my left calf is quite sore and sometimes cramped.
    I think nobody has a perfectly symmetrical body - we are for instance right or left handed which means a higher training on the side we use constantly. With the legs it is similar - we have a standing leg and a working leg (for instance when playing soccer :D)
    Training of course tries to evenly develop the muscles on both sides of the body but I don't think it could ever achieve a 100% symmetry.
    So this could explain the fact that there is only one calf involved.
    But: when the calfs (or one calf) begin to hurt it would be better to stop. (I know this can be a problem when you are 5 miles from home, it begins to rain and you just want to get home quickly. :D) Running with a painful calf will lead to other compensations and other pains.
     
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  3. Stephanie

    Stephanie Barefooters
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    Ah, thanks, yeah I can see what you mean, Hobbit. I have arthritis in both knees (the thing that led me to transition to barefoot/natural running in the first place), but the left one is the one that usually causes me the most flare ups and pain and, in the past, problems when running. I guess I could be unconsciously 'favouring' that knee, being scared of injuring it or feeling pain, and then all I've done is ended up asking my right leg to work harder -- and that would be why the right calf is more sore.

    And, thanks for the tip on stopping as soon as there is pain. Not to worry, I'll easily follow that advice, as I'm a complete baby about pains when exercising. I do it for fun -- so if it hurts, I have no problems stopping! But for now this is just the normal delayed onset muscle soreness (or maybe I should describe it as 'tightness'?). No proper pain, sharp pains or anything that makes it hard to walk or move around at all -- just thought it was bizarre that I only felt it on one side and want to catch any problems early before proper pain does set in.

    Next session I will certainly watch out for if I'm working harder with one side of the body and compensating and stuff -- will do. Again, thanks for that.
     

  4. Neil_D

    Neil_D Chapter Presidents
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    Hi Stephanie,
    Have you had a dig around with your thumbs to see if you can locate a spot in the calf muscle that is sore? I do this on a regular basis, I then apply pressure for a couple of minutes to the sore spot. Another technique is to use a roller, I bought a Thera Roller around a year ago and it is one of my best running tools. I give my calves a roll before going on a run.

    Neil
     
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  5. Mikkel

    Mikkel Barefooters
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    Could be a little push-off with the right side only. Are you focusing on lifting the knees rather than pushing off?
     
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  6. Stephanie

    Stephanie Barefooters
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    Neil, just had a look for TheraRoller here in the UK -- looks great (and much cheaper than most of the rollers they sell). Added to my wish list already :) -- but they do have rollers at my gym, so yes will give a go at rolling my calves pre-run. I roll my IT band already; don't know why I'd not thought of rolling calves. So, will try that Friday. Thanks.

    Mikkel, yes I could well be doing that. I'd not thought of that either. I'll pay close attention next time I run to make sure I'm not pushing off. Thanks!
     

  7. skedaddle

    skedaddle Barefooters
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    Make sure you work on your core strength so you have a strong foundation to work from. If your core muscles are weak it can often lead to an imbalance in posture.
    I used to favor one leg over the other until i worked my core, it really should be the starting point for every runner. I'm not a physician so take what i say with a pinch of salt, i can only relay what has worked for me.:)
     
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  8. Stephanie

    Stephanie Barefooters
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    Oh, yes. The core. I know, I know -- you are so right. My core is nowhere near as strong as it should be (well, the abdominals part anyway; the back muscle bits are strong -- & probably the imbalance front to back is not good). Mainly, I just hate most exercises for the abs/core! So I shy away from them at my peril. I really should buck up and get them done. Thanks for the reminder.
     

  9. scedastic

    scedastic Barefooters
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    get a balance/stability ball. You can invent nearly any exercise on it and they can be fun, but always work core muscles you didn't know you had.
    I too used to HATE doing ab exerices. Now I just play on the balls. You can look up hundreds of different ones or just try to balance in different ways.

    btw I have a weak left side from an old injury to my foot. I probably had a slight limp i didn't even know about until bf walking, after a few decades of wearing too much shoe to notice.
    i know my stride must still be a bit imbalanced from it, b/c the left calf is always more sore than the right. It's gotten better over time, but when i push myself, it's always the left side to talk to me first.
     
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  10. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    My upper body is weaker on the left, so when I strength train, I target that first.
    My lower body is weaker on the right... Hey, I should work that side first. Hey, learn something new everyday! Thanks!
    Not sure how this helps you though, unless you have some slight imbalances like I do.
    Good luck!
     
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  11. Barefoot Gentile

    Barefoot Gentile Barefooters
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    "Several weeks" that is why. Continue the journey the body will eventually fall into place. You have months to go.
     
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  12. clawhammer72

    clawhammer72 Barefooters
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    What they said. When I began running in June, my left calf was always more sore than the right. Then after about 5 months, the soreness went away.
     
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  13. JosephTree

    JosephTree Barefooters
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    Amen to all the above.

    You've just started on the path, and you're paying WAY more attention to the details than I ever did. Between core work, rollers and just more steps on the ground, you will do fine. Everybody feels some sort of aches and pains along the way and the smart ones, like you seem to be, pay them heed and learn from them.

    ...and asking your questions here is just brilliant!
     
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  14. Stephanie

    Stephanie Barefooters
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    Thanks for that, JosephTree.... And I also love your signature line -- yup, painted toenails make me run faster too!
     

  15. JosephTree

    JosephTree Barefooters
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    You're very welcome.

    What is winter like there in Berkshire (pronounce like the stuff on the outside of a tree, I think)? Will you be able to keep up some decent sort of milage?

    I don't imagine any of the UK having the real hard nasty sort of winter weather any more, like in the good old days, a la Dickens. More like just miserable, cold and wet.

    FWIW, I ran a chainsaw across my left thigh many years ago, resulting in 110 sutures to close it up and a permanent imbalance in the strength of my legs. I've adjusted just fine over time, and have been known to outrun more than a few finely tuned and balanced, not to mention younger, runners.
     
  16. Barefoot Gentile

    Barefoot Gentile Barefooters
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    Another thing, drop the barefoot running coach. I can understand a "running" coach, but not a "barefoot running" coach. Barefoot running is very intricate to the individual. It's good to read advice and apply it, but having someone coach you on how to run barefoot will hinder your natural way of running barefoot.
     
  17. Stephanie

    Stephanie Barefooters
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    Yeah, you've got the pronunciation down just right. I'm starting from scratch w/ running, as I stopped running regularly close to 10 years ago and only did about 3 little jogs in the years between. So the training schedule I have for the winter is really about technique and not much mileage -- on not too cold/wet/miserable/deep-dark-freddie-kruger-attack-in-the-black-of-night-kinda mornings I feel safe enough to run unshod on the roads around my home, but at my gym I must wear the Vibrams on the treadmill. Gotta admit, while the treadmill is not ideal, it does make it easy to practice some drills, like cadence. I either keep up the pace or fly the hell off the darn thing, LOL. So that's the winter plan, basically -- not much trail or park running, which is what I hope to do mostly when the whether gets better.

    omg, we've got the leg self-attack in common there -- mine was a crowbar, not a chainsaw, across the shin -- ugly. Scar's kinda cool, though. I make up many stories about how it got there! But yeah, there's all kinds of things we have and do that create imbalances. I'm a big yoga nut, so that practice works a lot on returning balance to the body etc -- so will focus more to see where I'm unbalanced or wonky.

    Again, thanks for the tips & advice.
     

  18. barefootbeginner

    barefootbeginner Barefooters
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    Hi Stephanie
    I ended up with a problem in my left calf which I think was actually a tightness in my right hip. I didn't realise that I was favouring my left leg until it was ointed out that my left quad was bigger than my right by a considerable amount. I wasn't aware of it. My point is that it may be an ever so slight problem elsewhere than comes out as a problem in you calf. Maybe, just a thought.
     
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  19. rickwhitelaw

    rickwhitelaw Barefooters
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    Tons of good advice. Try not to get overwhelmed with all the details. Here are more to add to the confusion. Vary your work outs and running conditions as much as possible. Could be a terrain issue. Example: road camber.
     
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  20. skedaddle

    skedaddle Barefooters
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    Most of my core work is done doing day to day tasks.
    If you're standing in a queue for something, engage your core then stand on one leg for a while then repeat with the other, it's kind of habit with me now.
    I was in my sisters kitchen the other day doing single leg squats and chatting away quite oblivious to what i was doing, until my sister pointed out the fact. The funny thing was she had another runner friend doing exactly the same thing in her kitchen a few days earlier. :)
     

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