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Prolonged Sitting – Surprising Source of Calf Pain

Prolonged sitting can be attributed to many aches and pains; something most of us can relate to it. Whether it be lower back pain or shoulder/neck discomfort, these issues can actually creep up on us without warning.

Some commonly experience night cramps in the calf as well. Sometimes, it can wake you up. The scary part about this is that when you google “night pains” and “legs”, scary things come up, all of which advise you to seek medical consultation. 

One issue that consistently passes under the radar is calf or “behind the knee” pain. Some try stretching (they watch you tube videos but don’t know what to trust). Some try foam rolling to relieve the symptoms and some take over the counter medication to find relief.

This is why it’s important to come see a Physiotherapist as soon as discomforts develop, no matter how small or irrelevant they seem to be to put together a treatment approach and management plan. Sometimes this can be done even in one session.

We had a client come in with something similar to what was mentioned above, and after a week, she was pain free and exercising quite comfortably. As we would have it, her job involved quite a bit of sitting, and that’s what she did for the past 6 months, 10-12 hours of sitting per day, every day… no movement, just sitting. Our experience working with many clients who have been working from home over the last year was that due to lack of movement and exercise, there was a pooling effect in her lower legs. An increase in sedentary behavior, lack of exercise and loss of muscle really makes for a bad combination.

What we did was teach her foundational exercises, putting together for her a set of daily exercise suited to her as listed below. The client was instructed and taught how to perform gentle self-massage of her thigh and surrounding muscles. Treatment protocol consisted of:

  1. Squats: 10 reps x 3 sets every day while at office
  2. Standing Heel Raise: 10 reps x 1 set every hour while at office
  3. Toe wiggles, scrunches and seated heel pumps throughout the day
  4. 20-30 minute exercise routine either during lunch or after work 

After her second session during the first week, the client reported feeling 90% better – SUCCESS! 

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Ranko Vukovic
Registered Physiotherapist
Vancity Physio