Running is one of the most common physical activities. However, you may risk getting cramps and calf muscle pain when running.

What causes them? Doctor Stefano Respizzi, Director of Orthopedic Rehabilitation at Humanitas, answered this question in an interview for “Corriere della Sera”.

“Firstly, check the shape of the legs, because the varus or valgus knee may get overloaded while running. Once these possibilities have been ruled out, check the feet, because running is very different from walking. First of all, you have to assess their shape: is the foot cavus or flat? Is there a bunion? It is important to verify the support”.

The aid of the podoscope

“Nowadays, the podoscope is a great aid in many precise studies. This tool is made by a see-through platform where the patient stands. This allows an extremely precise analysis of the reflected footprint. With this information, a good orthopedic technician will eventually realize an ad-hoc arch support that will correct the support and reduce wrong loads”.

The role of shoes

“These cases are more frequent than one can imagine, because, in theory, we should walk barefoot. Instead, we have to wear shoes at all times. They protect our feet, but they also force them in unnatural postures (especially high heels). In fact, it is no coincidence that bunions are more frequent in female runners: their feet can’t adjust to the change in posture created by the use of high heels and running shoes”.

General clinical conditions

“If there are no anomalies in the knees and feet, it is necessary to assess the strength of the legs’ muscles, checking the symmetry between the left and the right one. Another important step is a general clinical analysis. Even if there are no resistance problems, it is nevertheless better to check blood pressure, blood sugar levels and other metabolic parameters that may influence the work and the efficiency of muscles. At this point, it is possible to assess the problem and solve it, generally with relatively simple solutions such as arch supports”.

Increasingly sophisticated tests

“Just recently more sophisticated analyses have been developed to help professional or amateur sportsmen, by means of systems that allow dynamic analysis along with static one. The patient stands on a special platform and their every gesture is recorded with strategically located cameras, in order to study their movement in the space. Moreover, the patient has a big screen in front of them, where they can watch themselves move. In this way and with the help of specialists, they may see the errors they do or the postural defects they have. This is useful, both for the diagnosis and the treatment, because it involves the brain in the correction process. Unconscious movements become conscious, so that improvements may be adopted so that likely, they will  become automatic”, Prof. Respizzi concluded.