Today on the Doc On The Run Podcast, we’re talking about how tight calves are related to metatarsal stress fractures in runners.
This episode comes from a question from one of the YouTube viewers of the Doc On The Run YouTube channel, who wanted to know what it means when calf muscles are tight and you have metatarsal stress fractures. He wrote in and said, “Hey doc, I meant to inquire about stress fractures in the metatarsal joints and how you can tell. I have a friend who’s experienced a stress fracture, and he says his calves seemed to tighten up when the pain developed.”
So the question here is whether or not those things are really related. And most of the time when you get one injury that starts with one thing, even if you don’t really consider it an over-training injury, it can turn into a secondary problem. And this happens a lot from what we call compensation. So compensation is just the medical term for limping or walking differently in some way, that will spread out the forces and take stress and strain and pain away from that one injured piece of tissue.
So let’s take the example of a metatarsal stress fracture. If you get a metatarsal stress fracture and it hurts, whether it’s a second metatarsal stress fracture or a fifth metatarsal stress fracture, you’re going to try to do something to shift pressures away from that structure. If it’s your second metatarsal stress fracture, well the second metatarsal is longer in a lot of people.
And since it’s longer, you basically have to lift the forefoot and the toes up off of the ground to keep it from being aggravated and irritated. When you do that, that causes increased tightness in the Achilles tendon, and walking around in a way that you’re holding your forefoot up off the ground, adding additional tightness or tension to the Achilles tendon. And the calf muscle, well it can cause irritation, stress and strain in the calf muscle. And then it can start to tighten up and kind of lock up a little bit just as a reflex to sort of fight that tension.
And if you have tight Achilles tendons, if you have a tight calf muscle to begin with, and then because it’s tighter, it’s actually pulling down harder when you walk, because of that additional tension and it creates additional force under the ball of the foot. Well, then that can actually lead to a stress reaction, a stress response, or a stress fracture in one of the metatarsal bones. So another way this can actually happen, is that if you have a tight Achilles tendon, it actually can cause your foot to pronate a little bit more. And that additional pronation makes the forefoot more unstable, sort of pushes the first metatarsal bone, allows it to drift out of the way. And then those forces that should be taken up by the first metatarsal bone at the base of your big toe, they get shifted to the next metatarsal, which is the second metatarsal.
And in that way, a tight Achilles tendon can also shift forces from one metatarsal to another, that can lead to additional stress that exceeds your sort of threshold to repair that metatarsal as it gets beaten up during your runs, and then you do your next workout and you get a stress fracture.
So either way it can happen, either you have a tight Achilles tendons or a tight calf muscle that leads to additional pressure in the metatarsal and contributes to you developing a stress fracture. Or you can have a stress fracture in one of the metatarsal bones, and then all of that attempt that you’re subconsciously doing to remove pressure, reduce pressure to that injured achy metatarsal bone. Well, it increases stress and strain on the gastric complex or the calf muscle, and it causes the Achilles tendon to become tighter. Then reactively, you start getting an additional tightness in the calf muscle. It can go either way, but that’s a great question. Thanks so much for sending it in.
If you have a tight Achilles tendon, you should probably do something about that. If you have metatarsal stress fractures and you know that you have tight calf muscles on both sides, then the chances are really good that the tightness in the calf muscle, in the Achilles tendon is actually contributing to all the forces in the forefoot that put you at risk of stress fractures.
If you do all the stuff that I show you to do in the Metatarsal Stress Fracture Course, and you reduce the stress and strain to that metatarsal so you can keep training, maintain your running fitness, and then get back to running sooner, but you don’t do anything to address that original deforming injuring force, basically from all the tightness in the calf muscle and the Achilles tendon, and you don’t do anything to shift your running form, then you’re going to be at risk of getting another one later.
It’s really important to consider that as well. So if you have a metatarsal stress fracture, you should probably check out the Metatarsal Stress Fracture Course for Runners. If you have a tight Achilles tendons and you have calf tightness, and you’ve got issues with your calf muscle and your Achilles tendon, maybe the Achilles tendon course would be helpful for you. But you just have to think about what’s really causing these things. What really is causing the stress and strain? And if you want to maintain your running fitness and keep running, you have to think about what you can do to reduce the stress and the strain on the injured tissue, so you can get back to running as quickly as possible.
In the Metatarsal Stress Fracture Course for Runners I show everything I would do with you, if I was sitting in your living room looking at your foot, trying to help you figure out what to do right now. And in the free Fast-Track Recovery Challenge I show you how you can use the pain and discomfort in you foot as a tool to determine the severity and Fast-Track the recovery.
If you do nothing else today, you should take the first step in tracking your pain. Think about how much it hurts. Right it down. Begin.
Join me in the Fast-Track Recovery Challenge. It’s free. Give me 3 days and I’ll give you a better understanding of your injury and what it is going to take to get back to running faster.
Get started for free right now!
Go grab your seat now. I’ll see you in the training…
Metatarsal Stress Fracture Rapid Recovery For Runners
If you have a stress fracture, you’re probably really freaked out right now and think you’re going to lose all of your fitness while you heal. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I teach doctors how to help runners heal and maintain running fitness.
If your doc said “Stop Running!” You don’t have to stop running. You just have to reduce the stress to the injured bone so it can heal. You just have to be thoughtful about how you maintain your running fitness so you can keep healing.
Run without making it worse. The worst thing you can do is sit still, stop exercising and lose all of your running fitness. It is possible to maintain your running fitness while you heal your metatarsal stress fracture. This course shows how.
Enroll in the Metatarsal Stress Fracture Course now!
If you have a stress fracture
You’re probably really freaked out right now and think you’re going to lose all of your fitness while you heal. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I teach doctors how to help runners heal and maintain running fitness.
If your doc said “Stop Running”
You don’t have to stop running. You just have to reduce the stress to the injured bone so it can heal. You just have to be thoughtful about how you maintain your running fitness so you can keep healing.
Run without making it worse
The worst thing you can do is sit still, stop exercising and lose all of your running fitness. It is possible to maintain your running fitness while you heal your metatarsal stress fracture. This course shows how.
Enroll in the Metatarsal Stress Fracture Course now!
If you have a question that you would like answered as a future edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast, send it to me. And then make sure you join me in the next edition of the Doc On The Run Podcast.