Continued Leg Muscle Frustrations

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Continued Leg Muscle Frustrations

Postby sim-o » Fri Mar 04, 2011 4:44 pm

Hi All,

Sorry about the long post, but these frustrations are seriously challenging my desire to continue cycling and running.

Last year I posted ( viewtopic.php?f=49&t=32480 ) regarding issues with tightness in the calf muscles of my right leg. I both run and cycle and the issue presents itself differently in each sport:

Running = With a fore-foot running technique (i.e. landing on the balls of my feet), the muscles will tighten throughout the run (beginning usually after 1-2 km). If I do not slow my pace or stop to stretch, the tightness will progressively get worse until it becomes painful and in some cases I may be forced to stop. After a run, I will notice tightness on the right leg, around the soleus muscle (half between the achillies tendon and the main muscle bulk). It may continue to ache in that area for 1-2 days if it was a hard run. There is not usually any sharp pains after a run, just aches and tightness, and the achillies tendon itself feels okay.

Cycling = Tightness is not as bad, but if I push hard on a ride with alot of hill climbs, the right soleus will gradually get tight and ache afterwards just like when running. I noticed that when I climb hills I'm basically riding on my tippy-toes; i.e. balls/toes of my feet on the pedal, with the angle of my foot pointing down. I'm currently using flat pedals on my MTB.

To treat this I had physiotherapy back in October/November 2010 (acupuncture, calf massage), at which point it was discovered my right calf muscle has noticably less muscle bulk than my left calf muscle. I followed this up with rigorous calf muscle strengthening (raises) and stretching. As of February 2011 this treatment has not resolved the issue. Although, it may be helping the muscles to recover post-run and the problem MAY have slightly improved (it's hard to tell).

Just recently I remembered that two years ago I had a different running technique (heel-landing). Around that time I was running on a treadmill and for some reason I must have changed to fore-foot. The fore-foot running technique does apparently load up the calf and achillies tendon significantly more. Also, I've heard the same about cleat/foot position when cycling (see this article from Joe Freil: http://www.trainingbible.com/joesblog/2 ... ition.html ). So, as a result of this I have changed my running technique back to how it originally was (heel-landing), and I plan to do the same for my cycling foot-position.

The plot thickens... :roll:

I have been running using this new technique for about a week now (yet to cycle). So far this has significantly reduced the tightness and aches that I was previously getting during exercise. However, I am now having another, possibly worse issue on my right leg; my ankle anterior (the front of my ankle/top of my foot) tightens up within minutes of running. I suspect this could be 'Anterior Tibial Tendonitis', however the pain only occurs during exercise and stops immediately after.

In order to get through my runs now I am mixing the two techniques to try and ease out the pains. I have begun doing flexibility exercises on my right ankle, as I'm hoping that it's simply a lack of strength. I have also started wearing an ankle brace/strap to prevent excessive ankle dorsiflexion. So far none of this has helped, but it is early days. I am also worried that I may be making the issue worse.

It would be easy to quit running and focus solely on cycling, which I'm willing to do if neccessary as Cycling is enjoyable. Although I'd be worried I'm just brushing the issue under a rug and that it could get worse down the track, plus I enjoy running aswell.

Does anyone have any advise or experience with anything remotely similar to this? How can I resolve the issue so that I can continue both of these sports? Is it pointless and a waste of time to continue?

I fully intend to see my GP aswell.

Thank all,
Simon
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by BNA » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:16 pm

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Re: Continued Leg Muscle Frustrations

Postby scotto » Tue Mar 08, 2011 4:16 pm

a short reply to a long post
1. your forefoot running technique does load the Achilles/gastrocs up a lot. Either persevere and spend a lot of time in calf stretching every day to overcome this, or join a running club and get a coach to watch and help you. or do both...

2. re anterior ankle pain. is your range of movement the same for left and right leg ? is there any past history of ankle injury? given its only been a week since starting a new technique, maybe keep going and see if it settles. ?

3. ditch the ankle strap for a few weeks so you/we can get a better idea of whats going on.
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Re: Continued Leg Muscle Frustrations

Postby sim-o » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:05 pm

Thanks scotto.

1. Since November 2010 I have been stretching my calf muscles atleast once a day, sometimes twice a day. I find this does help recovery, but does not prevent the calf issue. They will still tighten up over the longer/faster runs and rides (when using fore-foot).

2. I would say my left ankle has marginally better flexibility and I have no history of injuries on either of my legs/ankles. I did a 7km run on Saturday, and while the first 4km was quite painful in the right ankle, the pain reduced to mere discomfort for the last part of the run :shock:. I will keep at it and hope that it settles as you said.
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Re: Continued Leg Muscle Frustrations

Postby albe » Wed Mar 09, 2011 10:40 am

i can totally relate after a solid day of 5 a side football the weekend before last ... my left ankle is still sore, the right is ok now. Some light massage on the calves and just below the knee has helped. Have avoided too much stretching.
Reminds me why i don't tend to mix running and cycling anymore, just sticking to the bike. Soccer seems to be a more once a year pursuit these days :( Least i have the ps3 !!!
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Re: Continued Leg Muscle Frustrations

Postby sim-o » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:18 am

UPDATE: Did a 5k run this morning and there was a noticable improvement. Firstly the onset of the ankle pain was significantly slower (took about 5-10 minutes instead of 2 minutes), also it wasn't as severe and I ran heel-first for the entire distance. Once again the pain disappeared almost completely in the final 2km or so.

I've been doing ankle flexibility/strength exercises 3 times a day, so I'm attributing the improvements to that.

There is hope yet :D, although I shouldn't count my chickens before they hatch.
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Re: Continued Leg Muscle Frustrations

Postby brentono » Wed Mar 09, 2011 11:39 am

IMO mixing running and cycling is not on.
(different muscle groups)
If you need to run, don't run on hard surfaces.
Try running along on soft beach sand (if available)
and see the improvement.
:mrgreen:
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Re: Continued Leg Muscle Frustrations

Postby Robdog » Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:11 pm

brentono wrote:IMO mixing running and cycling is not on.
(different muscle groups)

Um... Try telling these guys that
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Re: Continued Leg Muscle Frustrations

Postby brentono » Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:47 am

Robdog wrote:
brentono wrote:IMO mixing running and cycling is not on.
(different muscle groups)

Um... Try telling these guys that
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... was actually trying to help, be that as it may. :roll:
... telling these guys, what. :?:
That their "sport" is right up there, with the others that are pretty boring. IMO :|

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Re: Continued Leg Muscle Frustrations

Postby Robdog » Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:08 pm

brentono wrote:... was actually trying to help, be that as it may. :roll:
... telling these guys, what. :?:
That their "sport" is right up there, with the others that are pretty boring. IMO :|

Grand, well seeing as how plenty of people combine running and cycling in one event (Ironman triathletes prove that it's very doable :wink: ), perhaps your last comment could have used some more thought.
Granted, the way you're structuring your replies since your dummy spit, I'd be avoiding writing at all costs
I find football (Euro and league, union and AFL) to be one of the most boring spectacles going around, but I don't bag those who choose to play it at any level, or say running and holding a ball to be incompatible
There are other points of view that may clash with yours, get used to it
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Re: Continued Leg Muscle Frustrations

Postby brentono » Sat Mar 12, 2011 10:53 am

Robdog wrote:I'd be avoiding writing at all costs

:lol:
... I'll live in this moment, have my opinion,
and no words from you or others, will change that. IDGAF :wink: .
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