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  • Writer's pictureLuke Nelson

Calf strain? When can you return to running?

So you've injured your calf and wondering when and how are you going be able to run again?

When can you return to running after a calf strain?

At Health and High Performance we are advocates of criteria based rehabilitation: this means that you must meet criteria to progress, not simply how long you’ve been injured for.

In order to begin to run, here are the criteria that can be used to progress:

  • Pain free walking

  • Seated and standing calf raise on AxIT within 10% of the uninjured side

  • 25+ calf raises, <10% asymmetry

  • Calf raise height & bent knee calf raise height within 10% of the uninjured side

  • Bent knee calf raise endurance within 10% of the uninjured side

  • Double leg jumping: pain free

Once the above have been passed, you can resume jogging and slow running. But before progression to higher speeds, you should fulfill the following criteria:

  • Submaximal hopping on the spot: pain free and equal quality vs other side

  • Single leg jump onto 30cm box x 10 reps

  • Single leg landing from 30cm x 5 reps

  • Single leg hop for distance within 10% of the uninjured side

  • Reactive strength index (drop jump) within 10% of the uninjured side

  • Striding at faster speeds 50-90%

  • Fast change of direction running & cutting: increasing speed and cutting angles

  • Sprinting: 100% effort for 20m

Tips for running post calf injury

  1. Avoid long slow continuous running initially, especially for soleus injuries as they don’t like long periods of time on feet

  2. Run throughs of 60-80m distances are best for building early running capacity, using passive rest between reps and sets

  3. Will usually resume running later than a hamstring muscle injury, do not try and run as early

  4. Avoid "junk time" on legs, especially when skill based training has been introduced

  5. Always program running before strengthening

  6. Don’t run on consecutive days for a calf (even in low volume), and control "time on feet" as much as possible on off days


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