Calf pain can stop people from being able to walk, run and do sports. It can become so bad people resort to surgery, however, relieving this pain can sometimes be done by treating calf trigger points. Here’s my story about it.
It was about twenty-three years ago, and I was working as a doctor in New Zealand.
I had just started studying trigger points. Every evening I pored over old manuals and worked out how to find all the triggers in the body. But I had yet to practice my new skills on anyone but myself.
Then one day I saw a very fit healthy young lady who was a keen provincial level hockey player. The problem was, whenever she ran she had this nasty pain in her calf.
She had seen a surgeon who diagnosed a strange and rare condition called compartment syndrome. The key to this condition is that the muscles in your leg are in compartments, almost like sausage skins around your bone.
If you’re unlucky when you exercise, the pressure goes up in one compartment which stops blood supply from getting to the muscle.
So the more you exercise, the worse the pain gets as the muscle is starved of oxygen.
The treatment for this syndrome is to slit open the problem compartment with a long ‘s’ shaped cut which would have gone all the way down her
lower leg and created an ugly scar.
Naturally, she wanted to avoid surgery and came to me for a second opinion. So, when I examined her legs I found exquisitely tender trigger points in her lower leg muscles.
I treated her pain by treating her calf trigger points with acupressure, stretches and some acupuncture. To our amazement, her pain went completely and she was able to continue playing hockey without the surgery.
This was my very first treatment, and both myself and my first trigger point patient were blown away with how well it worked.
Over the years I’ve had many other success stories, some not as dramatic, some equally dramatic. But all of them as satisfying for me and the person getting relief from the pain
Knowing how to treat calf trigger points is especially important for runners, cyclists, and sportspeople. Trigger points can be set off by extreme exercise, uncomfortable shoes (or shoes with very high heels,) an injury, or joint pain.
Once these points are active, they need to be treated in order to turn them off, otherwise, they can continue to cause stiffness and muscle pain.
To treat your own calf trigger points, we recommend a self massage technique that uses ischemic pressure.
Here are the main calf muscles which get trigger points:
NB: You can see all the trigger point pain referral patterns by using our free trigger point charts tool.
Here are the muscles which aren’t in the calf, but which can refer pain into the calf:
It’s important to note that while the gluteus minimus has a pain pattern that extends right down the leg, the piriformis muscle can cause calf pain by compressing the sciatic nerve, which then causes pain down the leg.
Let’s look at the two most common calf muscles to get trigger points:
There are four main trigger points in the gastrocnemius muscle. Below is one of the most common ones, which causes pain locally,
Trigger points in this muscle can also cause pain going down into the ankle and sole of the foot.
The soleus muscle has two main trigger points. These cause pain in the belly of the muscle and running down into the ankle and heel.
Sometimes pain caused by this trigger point can be mistaken for pain coming from plantar fasciitis.
For more information on how to find and treat trigger points, here’s where to get a free trigger point treatment starter course >>>