Fitness

Calf Soreness and Leg Presses

Calf Soreness and Leg Presses


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The calves act as secondary muscles when leg pressing.

The leg press is a staple machine in gyms across the country, and many different variations of the machine exist -- from plate-loaded to horizontal, sled and lever leg presses. An effective leg-builder, leg presses offer a beginner-friendly alternative to squats. If you start to feel soreness in your calves, however, you might have underlying mobility issues that need addressing or your technique could be a little off.

Moving Muscles

Your quads, hamstrings and glutes may be the main muscles working when you leg press, but your calves are worked too. The soleus muscle -- the deeper part on the lateral side of your lower leg -- acts as a synergistic or secondary muscle when leg pressing, while the gastrocnemius -- the part of the calf that makes up the bulk of the muscle -- is a dynamic stabilizer. When training hard and pushing challenging weights, some muscle soreness is to be expected.

Tendon Trouble

Your calf soreness may not be muscle-related and could actually be caused by an injury to the tendon. Achilles tendinitis occurs when the tendon that runs between your heel and calf muscle becomes inflamed and painful due to overuse. This condition is commonly associated with runners and those who play sports involving running, so if you're on your feet a lot, you might want to consider an alternative to the leg press for the time being.

Pressing the Pain

If you've been using the leg press to perform calf raises on, it's not surprising your calves may have been feeling sore. Jim Stoppani, sports scientist and editor at "Muscle & Fitness" magazine, actually recommends calf raises on the leg press as a way of boosting calf muscle growth. When you first train your calves directly, they can feel quite painful for several days afterward. This soreness should decrease in time, but if it doesn't, there may be an injury, tightness or muscle imbalance causing your troubles.

Assessing the Alternatives

If you think your calf soreness is a result of Achilles tendinitis, vist your doctor or a sports therapist at the earliest opportunity. It probably won't mean having to stop training your legs, but you might need to switch to another leg exercise, such as leg extensions or lunges. Take a look at your technique too. If you're up on your toes when leg pressing, this can place extra stress on your calves and Achilles, so aim to keep your feet flat and push through your heels.



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