Calf spasm/tightness

Hi all,

not sure if anyone can help me but I just started TR last week and made the error to start my training plan 5 weeks before when I actually started (because I did another plan on Zwift) so this made me start with Mcadie +1 and Galena back to back. It was really really hard and it seems like I ended up using my calves quite a lot and they both were very stiff and although they didn’t cramp I experienced pretty bad spasms as soon as I rested them. I took a day off and redid the plan and I did start with the first workouts of SSB1MV but everytime I pedal I could feel my tight calves so I did stop after 2 workouts like that. I’ve experienced spasm in my calves once in a while after a long ride but it always felt better the next day, which is definitively not the case this time.

It’s been 2 rest days now and my calves are still very stiff and when they are at rest I can feel micro-spasm in both and the dull ache just won’t go away. It’s strange as they very week (especially they lower half).

I’m a little worried now because rest doesn’t seem to do anything? Any idea what’s happening?

Well starting with those 2 workouts has caused a massive overload. The calf muscles are not big and any small tears will affect the whole operation of the muscles where as in the quads you can have loads of micro tears and trigger points and not really notice until they build up. I would get an old wooden rolling pin and roll your muscles with that, progressing to clamping one leg on top of the other when doing it. This worked for me when I had calf problems when I ran marathons. Also stretch the muscles - especially the soleus with bent leg leg calf stretches (the gastroc. is easy to stretch) Plus do some heel drops on a stair to stretch them and some calf raises on the same stair - progressing to single leg raises. The rolling with a wooden rolling pin hurts like hell - especially if you have trigger points in the upper lateral part of the muscle but it needs doing. Cycling places less strain on these muscles than running so it should resolve…no o/u or hard SS until it does though - go for Pettit or Baxter -2 if you fancy some variety.

I assume you did some sort of warm up before getting on the bike. My routine includes 30 reps of calf raises standing on the edge of a stair as @jdman described above. Make sure you’re drinking enough electrolytes, too, not just water.

Thanks for the suggestions, I do foam roll every now and then but not on a consistent basis. I wasn’t aware I needed to warm up (beside the easy spin included in the workouts). Wouldn’t that pre-fatigue the calves before the workout?

As for the electrolyte, that might be something I need to look as I’m sweating a lot.

What bothers me is that after 2 days of complete rest there’s no improvement at all.

Problem with the foam roller is that the calf is a bit small to get targeted pressure - the rolling pin is better or those new small knobbly massage balls you can get.

+1 for calf raises / dips on a step. Don’t think you need much, I just dip, hold, count to 10 slowly, and that’s it for a pre-ride check. +1 also for electrolytes if you sweat a lot.

Second thought is a more general one - how long / intense were the workouts in the Zwift plan you were doing? When you look at your calendar, what sort of weekly TSS were you hitting? McAdie +1 and Galena back to back are two tough workouts - if they’re more TSS than you’re used to, or the intervals are longer durations than you’ve been doing, then they could be a shock to the system. In which case, switching to the low volume plan and adding easier workouts when you have time may be a more realistic progression than going straight to TR mid volume plans.

TSS wise it was actually pretty similar but my ftp was about 17 watts lower when in Zwift so TSS scores overestimated by quite a margin. I know in retrospect I did too much intensity and volume within a 3 day span so I’m not surprised my legs were shot. It’s the weird spasm in my calves that haven’t gotten better after that is concerning. Hopefully after a few days I’ll be ok but it’s very strange to me.