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I am 34 year old male, about 5' 7" 165 pounds.

I used to run all the time, on tracks, on the street, etc. and I never had a problem with running. About 5 years ago when I was about 29 years old I couldn't run anymore for any prolonged period of time. The reason was because everytime I would run, my calves would start burning intensely and would become "extremely tight." this was not only my calves, but my shins as well.

I took some time off running and tried again several months later and I could not run at full speed longer than 2 or 3 minutes before the burning/tightness started setting in.

I then began a quest to find out why. First I tried my doctor who stated I just needed rest and better stretching. After trying that for several times I realize it was more than that. I researched articles online. I tried eating more bananas for potassium. I tried potassium supplements, magnesium even calcium.

I tried several different shoes over the course of several years. Everything from top of the line running shoes to easy impact basketball shoes. I tried running differently (even though my running style didn't change overnight).

I just don't know what to do at this point. It has been 5 years since I've been able to run. I have turned to riding bikes, but I really enjoy running and it's bothered me that I have not been able to run for so long. The longest I have been able to run is about 12 minutes and that is not even at full speed because I have to take a walk break every 3 minutes because the burnning/tightness just becomes unbearable.

The running forum is my last hope at somebody with similar situations that might be able to shed some advice. Keep in mind this has been going on for FIVE YEARS. I've been to doctors who think I'm crazy.

I suggested to my doctor that maybe I have PAD (peripheral artery disease) just because who knows? He checked the blood flow to my legs and said I seem fine and told me the same c**p I already know - "Try some bananas and stretching, maybe get some quality shoes." Like I haven't already tried that for 5 years.

I will praise anybody who has had the same problem and can tell me if I'll ever be able to run again. By the way, the pain is worse while on a treadmill, if that matters any. Maybe because it's a constant speed. While running a track, I can last slightly longer possibly because I can vary the speed that I'm going.

Thanks so much for listening to me rant.


I know this post is a few weeks old, but thought I'd chime in.

I have been going through the exact same thing. Calf muscles, specifically anterior muslces, start burning and cramping sometimes as quickly as a 1/2 mile into my runs. If I take enough walking breaks, I can complete 2 miles usually, but my calves are completely clinched and burninng by that time. I've been an fairly avid runner (2-3 days per week) for around 3 years and the problem has only gotten worse.

I've tried everything as well. New shoes, different shoes, different pace, different surfaces, treadmills, different form, stretching before-during-after, warm up no warm up, strength training, increase workout, decrease workout, and any and all combinations of the above. Cushioned shoes, motion control, minimalistic (Nike Free), heel strike, mid foot strike, toe strike. Taking a few weeks off, running everyday, every few days, once a week, etc.

I'm 5'10", 185 pounds, and have been active my entire life. Nothing has seemed to help much at all. I'm going to an orthopedic surgeon next week. I've almost given up, but I enjoy running more than any other activity. Working out inside is torture for me. I would love to find a magic pill for this...



This is exactly the same thing I have been suffering from for years. Pain when running that forces me to stop and walk after only a couple of minutes. I actually visited a physio about it when it first occurred and he diagnosed flat feet.

Unfortunately since then I have rebuilt my arches using orthopaedic inserts and lengthened my calf muscle by stretching (it had shortened creating stress on the shin muscle as it tried to lift up my toes), but the problem persists. If anything it is worse than before.

If someone who has experienced this before could help me and the people above me out I think we'd all love you forever.


I visited a sports medicine / orthopedic surgeon and he diagnosed me with excertional compartment syndrome of the anterior shin muscles. Options were surgery for only permanent fix. Or, reduce impact with cross-training. Also, stretching or physical therapy can help to manage the symptoms. I found that by allowing more plantar flex and reduce the muscle tension when I plant my foot will help to reduce the severity of the stiffness.


HI, i'm a 31 year soccer player and suffer with the same problem...

In order for me to cope i stretch and start warm-up running till my calves want to fall off (about 7 min), i then take a 10min break to stretch and relax. After that, i rub on some arnica gel, and when that dries, i take normal insulation tape, and strap my calves from the outside in. Normally about 3-4 sections at a time so the bottom half of my legs look like a zebra. Apparently this helps level out the tention in my outer calves and shins. and i can then play a full 90minutes of soccer. Let me know if that helps a little, but bare in mind u need to stop when it's really burning, and take a few minutes to stretch and a few minutes to relax on ur ass before applying my ritual. If there is a permanent solution, please let me know.


Hi Y'all,

I too suffer the same condition and am looking for a solution. No more than 5 minutes of running and my outer calfs are burning and so tight that even walking is then difficult. I walk through it for a few minutes and then I'm good for another few minute run and the cycle continues.

I am 44 male 6'1" 185 and been very active with most sports since before high school ... just not running. I'm trying to do a sprint distance triathlon next month. I've been training for a couple months. The swimming and biking is no problem but I dread the run.

The tightness and burn is along the outer calf from above the ankle to below knee. I find this area impossible to stretch. The back of the calf is easy to stretch by leaning forward keeping heels on the ground. But I can't flex my foot "in" (soles together) enough to get an outer calf stretch.

This calf muscle tightness and burn seems different than other muscles. The only similiarity I notice is to outer forearm muscles. If I do reverse wrist curls I can get my forearms to tighten up and burn in a similar way. Something biceps, quads, lats, etc. just don't do. The other muscles max out, but they don't burn and tighten up like the outer calfs.

Hope someone has the answer out there so I won't be walking (hobbling) at the finish line.



So, I was in the same boat not too long ago. Every time I ran somewhat hard, I would get this intense burning in my shin muscles and it would be very tight (and stretching would not help)

Turns out it's compartment syndrome...

I have it on the anterior/lateral sides of my shin (outside of the leg). The way it works is that the muscle expands and without room to grow, since the wrapping around the muscle isn't flexible, the capillaries are squeezed shut due to the pressure. This causes a lack of nutrient/oxygen flow to the cells.

If you're serious about this diagnosis, go see your doctor and ask for the test. It isn't pretty. They stick a nice long pressure gauge into each of your 4 compartments (only need 3 stabs total), have your run until you get pain in your shins, more stabbing, more stabbing.

It hurts. get the results and you have compartment syndrome

Two options. First one is an elective surgery ($$$$$$) with a 70-90% success rate assuming good surgeon and rehab (which is not pretty). This surgery is a "major" minor operation. They are cutting open your legs...meaning nerves and other possible problems. The other option is physical therapy. PT may be able to stretch and expand the fascia (wrapping around the muscle) enough so running isn't a problem anymore.

I'm getting PT right now and it's amazing. The pain is sometimes there in the end when I push it but it's not bad at all. Other times it's completely pain free.

I've had PT before and the guy I'm with now is a miracle worker. Not all PT is the same.

-Compartment syndrome if...
-tingling of the lower extremities due to nerve compression
-foot drop (hard to raise your foot because the muscle is exhausted)
-muscle that hurts, not the bone
-Get the test done
-Surgery or PT
-life style choice


Thanks everyone on this thread. I know it's a year later but I have an ortho appointment next week. I will post my results that will maybe help others who have this problem.


Hi all,

dsc5890 is exactly right. I visited a very good orthopedic surgeon here in San Diego and explained to him my problems as mentioned by others in this post and he knew exactly what it was. This compartment syndrome is tough to deal with because most of us are not willing to undergo the surgery. My doctor explained to me that they use very long shears to cut slits in the membrane surrounding the muscles to let them properly expand. There is a good chance for permanent numbness due to accidently cutting nerves. I already have a numb patch on my knee from my ACL surgery and it kind of bugs me. I couldn't imagine having a numb foot or something like that.

I've been analyzing the mechanics of running and I thought I'd share some thoughts with everyone. Running can be broken into two main phases: the landing phase and the pushing phase. The landing phase is not the root cause of our problem. If you're like me, you can ride a bike and there are no issues with cramping (because biking does not over exert the shin muscles). It's the pushing phase that creates the most exertion in the shins. During this phase, you are pushing forward and slightly up. The front part of your foot springs off the ground and the shin muscles are doing a lot to counter these forces. For example, relax your foot and feel your shin muscles. Now push on the ground with your front part of your foot. You should feel these muscles tighten. If you run a mile, this happens about 1000 times per leg. Your shin muscles expand and are restricted and you start to lose strength. When you lose strength in your shin you may notice that your feet begin slapping the ground. This is because your shin muscles also lifts your foot up during the landing phase.

I m not an expert but just a mechanical engineer with the desire to understand why and how to fix it. I m considering designing a shoe that minimizes exertion to the shin muscles. 

mid 30's, 5'11", 185lbs

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hey im the age of 15 i know pretty young compared to you guys well im a freshman and im on varsity basketball so my coach puts alot of work on me and maybe like 2 years ago i started to get this burning calf sensation when i run i can only run maybe 2 or 3 laps around the track before it starts killing me. At first i thought it was my shoes so i got bigger and better shoes and it doesnt help, before i practice i stretch helps a little but not so much, so if any you guys have any suggestions i would be really appreciative of what you have to offer. Also i am 6'3 and i weigh around 200 pounds if that has anything to do with it.


I just had to post this and let everyone know...I had burning calves and major soreness after I ran/worked out. My calves would start burning as soon as I started running/walking fast. I went to my doctor and she suggested I try taking a potassium supplement. I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a bottle of potassium pills for $5.00 and it helped me immediately! 2 days after I started taking the pills my burning was so minimal and bearable! 4 days after there was no burning at all! Try this it helped me!


I was reading eveyones post on calf/shin muscle burning pain during running,the only thing I can't run I just jog. this pain everyone is concerned about I am concerned about as well. I have been working out since I was about 13 on and off. I am now 36 female and have been trying to shed these few pounds ever since I developed a heel spur then had to stop completely,since that time I gained a lot of unwanted weight, and now its like its so irritating trying to jog and then your calf starts to burn so then I stop walk it off and regain jogging,I have stretched stretched and stretched,bought heel inserts the good kind,good running shoes,even take advil before my runs and applying any kind of topical gels ect. (ben-gay) for now just gonna resort to my elliptical for a few days see if that helps but if anyone has insight or can help please do post it. :D :? :x


I have been experiencing the calf burn described above for the past few weeks. I'm a 51 year old female and have been walking and hiking for the past 2 months. My routine is pretty regular, walk 3 times a week, dance class 1 night and usually a 3-4 hour hike on weekends.

As my endurance increases, I've taken longer and faster walks/hikes. This past week, I went on two walks, fast paced but on relatively level trails. Both times within 5 minutes of starting, my calf burn became sever. It affects the anterior calf around to the sides. The front of the calf is pain free. I've stopped and stretched several times and it doesn't seem to help. Eventually it seems to subside but not go away until after the walk is over. My husband has no issues and his routine is the same as mine.

I've always had large, muscular calves and I was thinking that it just the price of pushing myself but now, after reading these posts, I wonder if it isn't something else. I m going to try taking potassium supplements to see if that helps.

I just want to know if this pain is causing injury or just a byproduct of becoming more active.


i have searched the web for the last several months and nothing was this informative.

im a 35yr old, very athletic male and i have been running a hard mile prior to weights..

my shins kill and get so tight its unbearable...i stretch and figured after running for months it would go away...not the case.

i will try potassium first, but if anyone can explain their PT exercises...i will try those too.



Wow the OP's symptoms are just like mine.
I'm 21, ran xc and track for hs and recently began running again. I definitely was keeping a reasonable milage (20 - 30 per week). It seemed allright until the cold weather hit and I started running on the treadmill. Since then, my legs have been completely wrecked. My shins are slightly sore, but that's really not bad. The bad part is the pain in my calves that begins within minutes after I start my workout. It feels like someone wrapped those muscles in shrink wrap and was gradually tightening it more and more. It's gotten so bad that I've been unable to run at all for the Past few weeks. I checked with a sports medicine specialist but he seems to thunk its a minor calf sprain... Which I've had before and recovered quickly from. Anyway, I'll try the potassium pills and get back to everyone... And I'm Pretty sure it's not a flexibility issue since I've always been like a pretzel and have been doing yoga. Anyhow. I'm going to check back with my doc in a couple of weeks and let people know. Btw, anyone get really good results with something they've tried?