As the foundational structures of your body, to function best, your feet count on everything above them being properly aligned. When there’s a problem, such as tight calf muscles, the effects are not only local, but they also influence how your feet function.
While many foot complaints are just that — problems in your feet — our podiatric team here at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle understands that the underlying problem may lie elsewhere. The perfect example is those who have tight calves, which can lead to issues both above and below these muscles.
In the following, we explore the effects that tight calves can have on your feet.
Two muscle groups make up your calves — your gastrocnemius and your soleus muscles — which stretch from your knee to your ankle. When these muscles reach your ankle, they merge with your Achilles tendon.
Tight calf muscles are simply that — tightly strung muscles, which causes them to pull up on your heels.
Tight calf muscles can be fleeting (think of a cramp), or they can become longer-term problems because of overuse, muscle strain, and even wearing high heels. In less common cases, tight calf muscles are something that you’re born with.
Tight calf muscles can affect your feet and ankles in a variety of ways, including:
Since your Achilles tendon is directly attached to your calf muscles, it makes sense that it’s one of the first areas to feel the effects of any muscle tightness in your lower legs. This added pull on your Achilles tendon can lead to tendonitis — inflammation around your tendon due to tiny tears in the tissue.
Tight calf muscles can also lead to heel and foot pain due to plantar fasciitis. Your plantar fascia is a band of taut tissue that stretches across the soles of your feet. If this tissue becomes stressed and inflamed, it can lead to the searing pain that’s the hallmark of plantar fasciitis.
Tight calf muscles limit the range of motion in your ankles, which causes some people to walk more on the balls of their feet. This shift toward the front of your foot when you’re moving can lead to problems like bursitis and nerve entrapment.
If tight calf muscles are causing foot pain, the first step we can take is to recommend a series of targeted stretching exercises. We can also outfit you with custom orthotics to better balance your feet and ankles. Between these two frontline treatments, we should be able to loosen your calves for better foot health.
To learn more about the effects of tight calves on your feet, contact one of our locations in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Waverly, Gallatin, Smyrna, and Lebanon, Tennessee.