Pumping Irony

Craig Cox, EL’s managing editor and resident geezer, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

Experience Life Magazine

Cramping Calves

calf.jpgI climbed on the treadmill last night and, after a five-minute walking warm-up, jogged a mile at a 4 mph pace. This would’ve been excruciatingly boring had it not been for the intriguing pain gripping both of my calves. Actually, it wasn’t so much a specific pain as it was an annoying cramp. It felt like the muscles back there all decided to hang out together in a little clump of blood and tissue.

This happens to me all the time when I jog (as I believe I have mentioned more than once on these pages) and contributes mightily to my distaste for this particular activity. It’s not like I didn’t warm up or stretch those muscles out or make sure I was properly hydrated — all reasons why the calf clump typically occurs, according to the experts.

Well, there is one other cause: A sudden increase in mileage. And I suppose you could say that my getting on the treadmill at all would constitute a sudden increase in mileage.

What is interesting is that this calf cramp stuff doesn’t usually happen when I’m running faster than a jog. Some experts say that too much pronation (foot roll-over) can cause calf cramps, and maybe I don’t pronate so much when I lengthen my stride. Who knows? I’m not looking down at my pronating feet while I run, because I have a hard enough time just staying vertical on the treadmill. (A couple of times last night, I found myself drifting off to the right and nearly ran right off the thing.)

So, I could start running at a brisker clip to prevent the calf cramp, but that would mean I’d have to run at a brisker clip. . . . This, of course, is a dilemma — or a paradox — because I’d love to keep my calves happier, but I’m not keen on running much faster than a jog — at least not on the evil treadmill.

I suppose I could try going for a run on the soccer field near home and see how well I pronate in that scenario. Any other ideas would be welcomed, obviously.