Calf tightness only leads to one thing -- pain. How much pain you endure depends on a slew of factors, including the type of exercise, your diet and tightness in the area. Now in extreme cases, the tightness pulls the muscle to the point of cramping. At that point, you often fall to the ground, wincing in pain, as the end of the world seems to have interrupted your workout. Either way, you need to take steps to ensure your calf muscles remain limber and flexible before, during and after your workout.
Why It Hurts
Sweating is a natural byproduct of exercise. As you sweat, your body loses both water and sodium, two essential ingredients to your body’s well-being. Your muscles will begin to shrink when either or both run low. As the muscles shrink, pressure increases along their length and you begin to feel pain. The pain will increase as the muscles become shorter until they cramp and the real fun begins.
Drink More Water
Quench your muscles' thirst to avoid tension. Drinking water throughout your exercise routine keeps the muscles from becoming thirsty and shrinking away to nothing. Although water is not the only culprit in your calf muscle tightening problems, it is the most common. How much water you need to drink will depend on how much you're sweating, which varies by exercise difficulty and the temperature in the area.
Eat More Bananas
Another mineral comes into play when dealing with tight calf muscles, especially cramping. Low levels of potassium will also cause muscle cramping, but you can't replace it while exercising, you need to feed it to your body. Bananas, white beans and potatoes all contain potassium and eating them daily will keep your levels correct. A second option is to take a supplement to replace the missing mineral.
Stretching your calves before and after exercise elongates the muscles, increasing their flexibility. Flexing your feet during a hamstring stretch or just alternating between standing on your toes and standing flat-footed will stretch the calves. One important thing -- do not attempt to stretch a tight or cramping muscle during your exercises. This can tear the muscles and lead to exercise-ending injuries. Instead, stop exercising, stand upright and wait for the tension or cramp to disappear.
Lynda Schwartz is a fitness professional who began writing in 2004. She has contributed to "Women's Day" and "Good Housekeeping" magazines, as well as covered fitness and well-being for online publications. Schwartz holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and health promotion.