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Causes of Calf Pain When Walking Fast

There are a lot of conditions that can impact the calf muscle and the blood vessels along with other structures around it, and result in calf pain. Calf pain could be mild in some cases and can be severe in other cases. There are many causes of calf pain that occur when walking. Let us read further and know what could cause calf pain when walking fast.

Causes of Calf Pain When Walking Fast:

Calves are located at the back of our lower legs and calf muscles are very important for walking, jumping, and running. Moreover, they are even responsible for assisting you to bend your foot downward or to stand on your tiptoes. Sometimes we might feel calf pain while walking, especially while walking fast. This can be because of several reasons. Some causes could be because of common muscle conditions, while other causes might be because of an underlying health issue. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common reasons for calf pain when walking fast.

Muscle Cramping

The sudden, involuntary, and painful contractions of the skeletal muscles can be indicated as muscle cramps. These muscle cramps are electrically characterized by the repetitive firing of motor unit action or MUAP that rates up to 150 per second.(1)

Muscle cramps occur when our muscles start contracting involuntarily. Muscle cramps affect the legs, including the calves, quite commonly.(2) They happen mostly while walking, running or while being engaged in some movement or physical activity.

Muscle cramps are caused because of overuse of the muscles, dehydration, not stretching properly before any physical activity, low levels of electrolytes, and low blood supply to the muscles. The most important symptom is however pain, which might also feel hard to touch.

Muscle Strain

You might also feel calf pain when walking fast when there is a muscle strain. This occurs when the muscle fibers in the calf tear either completely or partially. This can cause sudden, sharp pain along with tenderness at the calf muscle site.

Muscle Injury

An injury to the calf muscles can even result in pain while walking, especially while walking fast. Common symptoms of a calf muscle injury are swelling, a visible bruise, pain in the affected region, and tenderness.

You can help prevent calf muscle injuries by stretching and warming up properly before physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight.

Achilles Tendinitis

A tough and fibrous band connecting the calf muscle to the heel bone is known as the Achilles tendon. Calf muscles, especially the tight muscles, might put extra pressure on the Achilles tendon. This can result in calf pain or cause Achilles tendinitis.

You might experience this if you have recently started an exercise program. Frequent stretching can help in reducing the symptoms.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis is the condition when there is a narrowing of the spinal canal that puts extra pressure on the nerves in the lower back. Problems like the formation of bone spurs and degenerative disc disease usually cause Lumbar Spinal Stenosis.

You might face pain or cramping in the calves and thighs while walking. Apart from the pain, you might also feel numbness or weakness in the legs. Physical therapy and other ways of pain management can help in providing you relief. However, in severe cases, surgery might be essential.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral Artery Disease or PAD is a condition that is characterized by the building up of plaque in the arteries that carry blood to various areas like arms, legs, and internal organs. Conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and habits of smoking can result in damage to the arteries, which can cause peripheral artery disease.

You might experience intermittent claudication, or pain in the calf when you walk or climb up the stairs. You might also experience other symptoms like slow healing of wounds, pale or blue skin, weak pulse in the legs.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency or CVI

Another condition that can cause calf pain when walking fast could be Chronic venous insufficiency or CVI. This is the condition when the blood from the legs finds it hard to flow back to the heart. With Chronic venous insufficiency, pain in the legs can be felt when walking, especially in the calves. Some other symptoms of Chronic venous insufficiency could be varicose veins, muscle spasms or cramping, swelling in legs, and discolored skin. As per the severity of the condition, the treatments for CVI would be dependent.

Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome or CECS

You might also feel calf pain when walking fast if you have CECS. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome or CECS is the condition when there is swelling in a specific group of muscles (compartment). Most individuals who are engaged in activities like fast walking, swimming, running, or other activities that involve repetitive leg motions, are affected with chronic exertional compartment syndrome or CECS.

Apart from pain in the calf when walking, one might also experience other symptoms of CECS, which include muscle bulging and numbness. Usually, this condition is not serious and the calf pain goes away with rest.

Neurogenic Claudication

Neurogenic claudication is another reason that might be causing calf pain when walking fast. This occurs when the nerves that are going to the legs fail to communicate with the lower legs. Males are twice as affected as females. The most common associated risk factors could be diabetes mellitus, cigarette smoking and hypertension.(3)

Neurogenic claudication causes calf pain along with symptoms like pain while walking or prolonged standing, or pain occurring in the thighs, buttocks, or lower back.

When To Seek Medical Attention?

You should seek immediate medical attention when your calf pain while walking does not improve or turn worse in a few days, or if it affects the range of movement. Also, make sure that you pay strict attention to the following symptoms:

  • If you have swelling in your legs
  • If you are experiencing signs of infections like fever, tenderness, or redness.
  • Calf pain that you experience after sitting for long.

What Are The Treatment Options For Calf Pain When Walking Fast?

Treating calf pain when walking depends on the underlying condition or problem that results in the pain. Below are some treatment options:

  • Physical Therapy: This can improve the conditions like Chronic exertional compartment syndrome, muscle injuries, and lumbar spinal stenosis. Flexibility and movement can be improved with physical therapy.
  • Medication: Medication will be prescribed if you have an underlying condition that could be contributing to the calf pain when walking fast.
  • Surgery: Some severe cases might require surgery to treat calf pain. For example, in case of severe muscle injuries or angioplasty in the case of Peripheral artery disease.

How To Prevent Calf Pain When Walking Fast?

You can follow some tips to prevent calf pain:

  • Stretching is one of the most important methods for preventing calf pain. So, go for the stretching exercises before and after workouts.
  • Remain hydrated and prevent calf pain; since dehydration could cause muscle cramps and calf pain.

Take Away:

If you are experiencing calf pain when walking fast, you should take all necessary precautions to keep the pain away and consult with your doctor for a proper examination and diagnosis, and follow the prescribed treatments.


Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 11, 2022

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