“I have had pain in my calf for six weeks. Sports massage takes the pain away and I ran the Nottingham Half Marathon at the end of September, but I’ve not been right since. The doctor says it’s a knee problem and referred me to a physiotherapist, but I’m unsure as there is no pain in the knee, and also it is never in the same place and moves around the lower leg.”
This sounds more like a nerve pain due to two very clear markers.
Firstly, the pain is moving around which is unlikely if it were a tear in the muscle or a tendon issue. Secondly, when the ‘mechanical interface’ is worked on (the muscle) through massage then you feel some relief, albeit short-lived.
There is a pretty quick and easy way to test if I am along the right lines.
1. Sit on a table with your legs dangling over the edge
2. Slump your whole body down as if trying to get your chin into your belly button (but don’t lean forwards as well)
3. Ensure you keep this tension through your whole curved back and then lift one foot up at a time
4. When the leg with the calf pain is lifted, do you get a sensation like the one you do when running? And when compared to the other side is it significantly different?
If the answer is yes then it’s probably nerve pain.
To fix this, get into the same position, only don’t slump quite as much and when you lift up your foot, only go to the point of very mild discomfort.
Then follow these steps:
1. In this position, point your toes, hold for three seconds, then lift them up (not changing the knee bend at all)
2. At the same time lift up your head (keep your back flexed). Again hold for three seconds. Keep dropping the head and the toes and then lifting both for 25 repetitions or until the dull pain goes
3. After a short rest, repeat this twice more. This is called nerve flossing and will gently pull the nerve, often making the symptoms reduce
4. Couple this with regular glute stretches and knee rolling and you should see a rapid improvement in your symptoms