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Can Tight Calves Cause Foot Pain?

Sometimes, the pain you feel in the foot has its source elsewhere, as in the case of tight calves. The tighter the muscles, the more pain you'll experience.

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By Babafemi Adebajo
Siphokazi Mdidimba
Edited by Siphokazi Mdidimba

Published June 28, 2022.

Foot pain is a common cause of discomfort in many people. Often, it occurs as a result of a problem with a structure in the foot. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes, the pain you feel in the foot can have its source elsewhere, as in the case of tight calves.

Several things can cause tight calf muscles, including overuse, underuse, muscle wasting, muscle tears, and improper footwear.

Several studies have confirmed that tight calves cause foot pain. This foot pain can occur in any of the following ways:

  1. Achilles tendonitis Calf muscles insert into the Achilles tendon. Tight calves cause an additional pull on the Achilles tendon, causing micro-tears of the tendon and eventually foot pain.
  2. Plantar fasciitis Again, tight calves can cause the plantar fascia to become inflamed, leading to plantar fasciitis.
  3. Forefoot problems Tight calves can also cause several forefoot conditions. For example, tight calves limit the range of motion in the ankle. Consequently, people can begin to walk on the ball of their foot, overloading the foot and leading to inflammation of the MTP joints (Metatarsalgia). It can also cause other forefoot problems like pain in the big toe, hallux valgus, hallux rigidus, hammer toe, plantar plate tear, etc. Read more on our blog on what you can do to treat the ball of the foot pain.

How Tight Calves Increase Foot Pain

One study by Pearce CJ et al. (2021) further confirmed that the more the tightness, the more the severity of the foot pain. The foot tries to compensate for the tightness and limited range in the ankle, causing overloading of the foot and worsening foot pain. Thus, for holistic management to take place, foot pain treatment must include stretching tight calves.