Your friend finally convinced you to leave the comfort of the treadmill and join her in boot camp. You survived, felt accomplished and even bragged about it when you got home, only to awake the next morning to screamingly sore calves. You aren't ready to throw in your exercise towel and give up on sweat sessions for the week -- but you also know that your regular routine isn't going to happen. Don't worry, you can still get a solid workout while resting your aching legs.
Keep It Light
Sore muscles that show up about 48 to 72 hours after your workout are called DOMS, short for delayed onset muscle soreness. This type of soreness can be completely normal, especially if you did something new or ramped up your intensity suddenly. Depending on the severity of your calf soreness, you may benefit from light walking -- on a flat ground -- or easy cycling. Both use your calf muscle, but easy movement increases circulation to the sore muscles and may make you feel better. If it is simply too painful to do even light activity, skip it.
Hit the Weights
Sore calves can give you an excuse to lay off the cardio for a day or two and focus on a developing a strapless dress-worthy upper body. Most strength-training exercises for the chest, back, arms, shoulders and abs rests the calves completely. While squats, lunges and deadlifts might be too intense for your tender gams, you can still work your inner and outer thighs by attacing a cable to your ankle. Work your glutes with the quadruped hip extension by getting into all fours, bending one knee and slowly driving the bottom of the foot toward the ceiling.
Dive on In
The pool offers an opportunity to get an effective cardio workout without the impact involved with land-based exercise. Your calves activate as you push off or land on your feet -- so choose activities in the water that keep you off the bottom. Swimming laps, deep-water running and deep-water aerobics are all possibilities.
Is It More?
A little soreness or tenderness in your calves can be normal, but it is also a warning sign from your body. If your soreness lasts longer than a few days or the pain is sharp and comes on suddenly, consult a health care provider. Chronic bouts of sore calves are not something to tolerate either -- check the age and fit of your athletic shoes, cut back on the time you wear your stilletos and observe your form when running or doing other high-impact exercises. Regular stretching can help prevent soreness in the calves as well.
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.