Tight calf muscles are often the hidden cause of low back pain (Janda 1987; Janda, Frank, and Liebenson 2007)
What happens with tight calf muscles:
When the calf muscle group become tight your body’s center of mass shift anteriorly, causing your thoracolumbar paraspinal (low back) muscles to over-activate and increase lumbar lordosis to maintain erect posture during standing and walking. ]This is added stress to your low back muscles and the rest of your upper body will over compensate for this weight shift. In your normal walk, as your ankle bends and unbends, your lower leg (shin) passes over the center of your foot. If your ankle is unable to complete this full range of motion, you begin to lose the ability to point your foot up or turn in or out.
Problems in the Soleus can affect…
- Your stride will shorten during normal walking
- Forward head and neck posture
- Can cause headaches and jaw pain
- Can cause upperback, neck, hips, knees, and low back pain
Massage work on the soleus and calf region:
Getting effective massage work here can be very painful for some individuals but without proper treatment here, you may see your doctor because of low back pain and his recommendation may be surgery.
Some research findings that we found say about 15% of low back pain can be traced to tight soleus muscles, now imagine going under the knife for chronic low back pain to only find out later on that you still have pain here, due to tight calves. Pain and tightness in this group of muscles can lead you to walk and stand incorrectly, which can cause pain in your sacroiliac joint and/or glute weakness. There are 3 trigger point regions that need to be addressed; TrP3 can send pain to your glutes or sacroiliac joint. Using our elbow or forearm to apply deep, long and broad strokes works the best here and if this is too painful, we may try stretching this group of muscles to loosen things up.
Other contributing factors for developing trigger points in the soleus muscle should be considered.
- Wearing high heel shoes (especially very high)
- Wearing-rigid soled shoes or boots (i.e. steel toe or reinforced work boots
- Standing still for long periods of time
- Wearing tight mid-calf elastic socks or knee high stockings
- Prolonged driving with your foot on the gas pedal
- Walking or running up a long steep hill
- Resting your calf muscle on an ottoman or footrest with the knee or the back of your thigh not supported