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Side of calf pain

marymack

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#1
Hi Divas,
I was curious if any of you have experienced pain (almost like a cramp that can't be stretched out/won't go away) in your lower leg (on the side that faces away from your body). I'm curious if this could be from my ski boots or just from skiing in general. Could it be that I am using the wrong muscles to ski from? Is this normal or should be it something I should be more concerned about since its been going on for over a week (right leg specifically). I can still do everything I normally do (include ski) and I haven't even been taking pain medicine for it but I'm just curious if others have experienced this.
 

bounceswoosh

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#2
I've had this too, recently. It may or may not have been associated with a fall where my body slammed back, so my legs hit the sides/backs of my boots really hard. For me I think it's related to when I ski moguls and get a little air / unweighting but maybe I land a little bit far back - but I'm not sure.
 

Mom of Redheads

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#3
Urgh. Sounds almost like calf strain. I was training for a marathon and one day I developed what felt like a little hard knot/cramp than never went away no matter how much I stretched or massaged. Hard to tell where you are describing, but if the front of your shin is 12 o clock and the very back of the calf is 6, then the spot would be about 4;30 on left and about 7:30 on right leg. About at the fattest part of your calf.

If this is what it feels like, it might be calf strain, an overuse injury right where I think the major leg muscles intersect/overlap. Swelling and minuscule tearing of muscle fibers. I still get this every time I try to pick up running again... In part because I never did PT or work with a doctor to sort it out. Also I think deep muscle massage can make this worse. If this is what it feels like (hard little golfball that never releases) my best advice is get thee to a professional.:yield:
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
My calves do get sore when I ski. I notice what muscles I am using because I don't get to ski that often. My husband also said his calves get sore. And yes, particularly that outside (lateral) aspect of the calf. And particularly on my right leg, which is my dominant leg.

The fact that you aren't in enough pain to want to take NSAIDS is probably a good thing. But I don't like that it's continuing on.

Are you wearing new boots? Have you been skiing a lot this year? Did you change something in your equipment set up?
 

pinto

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#5
Hmmm, I have had something similar during two of the past few ski days. I think mine is related to IT band tightness ( it's jut on the left side, which is the side with the occasional IT band issues).
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#6
Hmmm, I have had something similar during two of the past few ski days. I think mine is related to IT band tightness ( it's jut on the left side, which is the side with the occasional IT band issues).
You might be right! My right calf that gets more sore is also the side that my IT band causes me knee issues. Ah, the complexities of the miraculous human body!
 

marymack

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#7
Mom of Redheads, I like your clock example (I couldn't figure out a good way to describe the location), but actually using the shin as 12 and the calf as 6, the pain is centralized at 3 on my right leg and 9 on my left leg. If you were to divide the space from ankle to knee into thirds, I'd say its about 1/3 the way up.

As for boots, so at the start of the year I leased a set of equipment from my local mountain (didn't want to purchase since I knew I would be outgrowing beginner equipment/ski length by the end of the year), so the boots are rental quality but I have been wearing them all season. I have been skiing a pretty good amount this year, I'm probably up around 20 days now. Now that I think about it, I did switch to 10cm longer skis a few weeks ago, wonder if the extra muscle used to turn them could be causing this...

Thanks for your help so far ladies.
 

SnowHot

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#8
You may want to check your fore/aft alignment and see if it eliminates the cramping.
 

Mom of Redheads

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
Mom of Redheads, I like your clock example (I couldn't figure out a good way to describe the location), but actually using the shin as 12 and the calf as 6, the pain is centralized at 3 on my right leg and 9 on my left leg. If you were to divide the space from ankle to knee into thirds, I'd say its about 1/3 the way up.
Relieved to hear it's not the same spot - because as I said this has become a chronic problem for me...

I wouldn't say I have experienced "pain" or "cramping" in the spot you have described, but I have certainly had plenty of general muscle soreness (feels tight but not knotted) there. Usually from running, but don't see why skiing wouldn't cause it as well. Maybe using one of those foam rollers would help loosen things up and alleviate some soreness until you figure out the cause?

I can remember the first boots I bought and was fitted for - they were backloading - the fitter said that when you flex, your knees should go over your shin in basically a straight line within your boot. And if your knee came down more on one side or another that might cause boot pain. I remember him putting padding to the sides of my shins to keep my knees over my shins when I flexed (this is hard to describe). Anyway, I loved those boots and never had a moment's pain with them.

Sorry I can't help - if it's only soreness it might just be more exercise than you're used to. Real pain? I don't know. I don't think the muscles where you are feeling pain are the not biggest ones/most actively used in the leg group so not sure how you could be using them wrong. Although, now that I think on it, they are definitely used for "flexing" your feet up and down if you were sitting in a chair. If you've been using your feet to put pressure on your skis more than you were, maybe that's your answer...
 

B.E.G.

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
Any chance you're buckling the uppers of your boots too tightly? I've had issues where I buckled the top buckles too tightly and my calves were killing me after one run (did the same with my snowboarding boots the one time I tried it). Sounds like it was the same place on my calf too (that you're experienced pain in).

Sorry I can't help more than that!
 

snow addict

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
I get a bit of pain on the ouside of my calf, about halfway between the ankle bone and the bootline after skiing moguls. I don't feel anything when I ski, so hope it's not the boots but some muscle strain - there is a hope as the left foot hurts more and the right almost doesn't hurt at all.
 

Robyn

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#12
It sounds to me like your peroneal tendons which is something I battle with as well. For me I experience more pain with running if I start uphill without a warm up or if I'm running on slanted surfaces for too long (cambered roads). However, if I get stuck spending too much time on a slightly slanted cat track or traverse when skiing they will hurt. My massage therapist says she's never felt such tight peroneals. Gawd it hurts when she goes after them. Foam rollers don't really help that one (although they do help related calf tightness) but The Stick does seem to help.
 

marymack

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#13
Thank you all for your input. Boots too tight could be a plausible reason...I do tend to crank them down a lot although I can usually tell when they have started to cut off circulation and I then loosen them, but maybe they are still too tight. The pain definitely seems to have come down since I last went skiing on Friday night, I have another lesson tomorrow, and I'll try to remember to ask my instructor if he sees anything that I'm doing that could be leading to it. Thank you all again.
Mary
 

Suzanneski

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#14
It sounds to me like your peroneal tendons which is something I battle with as well. For me I experience more pain with running if I start uphill without a warm up or if I'm running on slanted surfaces for too long (cambered roads). However, if I get stuck spending too much time on a slightly slanted cat track or traverse when skiing they will hurt. My massage therapist says she's never felt such tight peroneals. Gawd it hurts when she goes after them. Foam rollers don't really help that one (although they do help related calf tightness) but The Stick does seem to help.
X2 with me- esp. noticed in Vail (tons of Cats) also experience when running on a slanted surface. My best advice is to try to fores your self to stay in the fall line and go down- not side ways and make sure you are keeping your weight over your boots. I experience this with foot cramping and it HURTS when I am a little nervous and start back seating it. The stick also helps me.. HTH
 

aengbrecht

Diva in Training
#15
Mary, did you ever find out what had caused this pain?

I'm a new skier, experiencing a similar pain (outside of leg, about 1/3 of the way between my ankle and knee- doesn't stop me from skiing or even hurt when skiing, but afterwards it feels sore to the touch). I've been to a boot fitter here in Seattle and he's been immensely helpful, but this issue has plagued me off and on despite the custom insoles and a heel lift the boot fitter just put in.

I'd love to hear what finally resolved this for you, or if it was a form issue (as I suspect may be the case for myself).

Thanks!
 

marymack

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#16
Mary, did you ever find out what had caused this pain?

I'm a new skier, experiencing a similar pain (outside of leg, about 1/3 of the way between my ankle and knee- doesn't stop me from skiing or even hurt when skiing, but afterwards it feels sore to the touch). I've been to a boot fitter here in Seattle and he's been immensely helpful, but this issue has plagued me off and on despite the custom insoles and a heel lift the boot fitter just put in.

I'd love to hear what finally resolved this for you, or if it was a form issue (as I suspect may be the case for myself).

Thanks!
I don't think I ever did find a true reason or solution... This might have been before I had custom insoles which certainly make a big difference. I haven't had it happen in a while related to skiing but sometimes I still get this from running. This year it has actually been back of the calf pain at the start of the season (I think my calfs are a little extra puffy right now due to COVID times). I did get a foam roller, which while painful when you do it, does help afterwards. Sorry I cant help more. Great call on seeing a boot fitter. Otherwise try massaging it with a foam roller and flexing the foot. I think jist walking and standing on it does help, if i remember correctly sometimes if I went in the lodge and popped off my boot for a moment and stood on that food it helped. Make sure you aren't buckling your boots too tightly.
Sorry for the stream of consciousness. Good luck finding the cure for you.
 

kiki

Angel Diva
#17
My boot fitter actually recommended to me to roll my legs when I first had this issue a couple years ago.
Now I roll out my legs pretty much daily.
I recommend this rad rod for myofascial release:

RAD Rod I Myofascial Release Tool I Steel Core Stick I Self Massage Mobility and Recovery https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00SGRSH3G/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_fabc_MMh9Fb9T7GVPA?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Note that you want to roll about 3-5 minutes per leg and do both for balanced fascial release (I am not a doctor or physio just repeating what the yoga instructors are always suggesting)
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#18
Consider what the calf muscles do. They point the toes, opening the ankle joint at the front. So the question is, when is it important to point the toes which opens the ankle?

In other words, when does it feel like the ankle is closing too much, when does it feel like the knee is moving too far forward?

Too-soft boots could cause this sensation, in which case the calf muscles will be used to holding the skier up and add stability. The boot cuff is not doing its job. Loose cuffs can be the issue, and so can too soft flex built into the boot. Tight cuffs that fit snugly all the way around the lower leg, with no air in the front even at the bottom of the lower leg, is a necessity. And the flex stiffness should be strong enough for the boot to support the skier's weight in turns, which makes calf muscle contraction unnecessary.

There might also be a sensation that there is danger from being too far forward. This sensation is often unjustified, but comes from not having the experience that the front of the ski will hold the body up (assuming the boot cuff doesn't collapse). Experience and time with an instructor can help this issue.

Here's an odd cause of calf pain: I've had a client say she thought she'd go faster if she allowed her body weight to hover over the front of her skis. She was seriously back seat. Her calf muscles hurt.

I've encountered calf pain also from too-tight buckling, which has already been mentioned. It cuts off circulation.

There's one last thing that can cause this pain. If the skier has been told to focus most of the underfoot pressure under the ball-of-foot, with heel light, then the skier may be contracting those calf muscles all day to make that happen. The skier is pointing the toes and overusing the calf muscles all day long. This is a mistaken understanding of how a skier needs to control pressure, but it's common, especially among skiers who started skiing long ago on straight skis. Instead, the skier should focus the body's weight over the arch or just behind the arch, with equal or close-to-equal underfoot pressure pushing up on the the ball-of-foot and the heel. While doing this, keep the ankle closed enough so that the lower leg exits the boot at a forward angle and so there is constant tongue-shin contact. (Many instructors will argue about that ball-of-foot pressure is the right thing; I am not in this camp.)
 
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#19
I've developed calf pain just in the last couple of years, mostly on my right side which is my very wonky leg. It is a burning sensation and quite bothersome. (I never used to have foot cramps either and that is something that had popped up, at least at the beginning of the day.) I've had all the bootfitting and in general my boots are good. A couple of the tips @liquidfeet shared are making me think..maybe I could see some improvement applying those.

But--there is one other time I get the same pain and that is horseback riding. Another activity where you stick your foot into a device (stirrup) and keep it pointed forward. I don't ride regularly anymore but on the rare occasion that I do I find myself taking my right foot out of the stirrup at every opportunity. Even if we are just walking on a trail ride I get at the pain – – I don't even really need to be using my leg.

In any case I manage it with a combo of Tylenol and ibuprofen. I never ski anymore without taking these.
 

SarahXC

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#20
It sounds like where you are feeling it is in the location of the muscle peroneus longus (also known as fibularis longus). One of the primary uses of this muscle is to evert the foot (thinking pinky toe edging). It’s an easy muscle to overuse and that could be what you are feeling. It’s also a plantar flexor (maybe not so much as dorsiflexion used in skiing but as @liquidfeet mentioned sometimes is by ball of footers) and also it supports the transverse arch. Anyway... maybe try putting your fingers on it (when lounging—not on the snow) and move your foot to lift your pinky toe up and out and see if it feels tender. Moving the muscle under a little finger pressure can be a great way to gently massage a sore area too.
 
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