Repetitive Strain Injury/Right calf pain with running


Dear Ms Donnelly - Thank you for your time. I am an orthopedic surgeon who has been running for 45 years. Five years ago I began having intermittent mid calf pain (feels a little deep) that comes and goes. It has now kept me from running for several months. This is not in my Achilles area. I cross train regularly and stretch regularly (there is more tightness in the Achilles stretch on the right than the left). I do sets of deep toe raises three to four times a week with an emphasis on eccentric strengthening. I've visited massage therapists with no turn around. I really miss running the hills here in Colorado. I'm a healthy 66 year old man. Can you help me?

Hi James,

I've been working with athletes for over 20 years, and calf spasms are common (as I'm sure you know), but most athletes have more than just spasms in the gastrocnemius and soleus.  It's actually very common for the problem to be coming from spasms in the psoas, iliacus, and rectus femoris that are putting a strain on the anterior pelvis, causing it to be pulled down in the front.  As that happens the posterior pelvis is pressing up onto the sciatic nerve, and that sends messages to the calf to go into spasm.  Through the years I've found that this is almost always the case for athletes, and rarely the case for non-athletes.  I don't know why, but it's amazing how often it happens.

Another thing that happens is people will stretch but not release the spasms first, as a result the spasms get tighter and could even tear muscle fibers. With your medical background I'm sure you understand how repetitive strain injuries will cause spasms that refer to other areas, but you might enjoy reading the way I describe it. I suggest you read and then go to the sections titled "Muscles and Pain" and "What's Happening Exactly."  Then go to to read about each muscle involved in the pelvic rotation that will ultimately cause chronic calf spasms.

I believe you will be pleased with the results of first releasing the spasms and then doing the stretches.  It's easy to self-treat, the website will explain how you can learn the techniques.  The problem with most massage therapists (love them, and I am one so I have respect for what they do) is that either they don't go deep enough, or they go deep but they are sliding so they pass over the spasm but they don't hold sustained pressure on the spasms.  This is what is needed to have the spasm release.

After you have read everything, if you would like to continue this discussion, please feel free to post again.

Wishing you well,
   Julie Donnelly

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Julie Donnelly, LMT


I can accept questions that relate to chronic or acute pain caused by muscle spasms and contractions. Repetitive Strain Injury is actually Cumulative Trauma to muscles. Releasing the spasm &/or contraction will relieve the strain that is felt at the insertion point on the bone. I am the co-developer of the unique safe-stretching program "Focused Flexibility Training," which combines easy instruction for self-treating spasms throughout your body with proven yoga stretches. I have recently authored two new books: "The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution," and "The Secret to Your Best Golf Game EVER!


Since 1989 I have been working with endurance athletes and individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions. I have authored seven self-treatment books and three self-treatment DVDs and I have developed the Julstro System for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, Trigger Finger, and other Hand/Wrist pain. I am a national and international presenter at conventions, seminars, and workshops. Principle topics are "Work Shouldn't Hurt," and "The Pain Free Athlete." In 2005 and 2006 I was the massage therapist for ultracyclists competing in the Race Across America (RAAM) 3000+ mile race from San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ. I've taught the Julstro techniques to physical therapists at the Cleveland Clinic, to massage therapists in areas around the USA, and I've taught Julstro self-treatment clinics to dancers at Juilliard School of Performing Arts (NYC),the sprinting team at NC State, and I am working closely with several Olympic-hopeful. We have successfully eliminated the repetitive strain injuries that could keep them out of the Olympic Games, and the best part is they know how to do the self-treatments so they can stay pain-free and flexible.

Triathlete Magazine, Endurance Magazine, multiple national and international trade journals.

Swedish Institute of Allied Health, NY, NY - Initial education in massage therapy Licensed NYS Massage Therapist since 1989. SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY - B.Sc. degree in Interdisciplinary Health Education I was an Associate Professor helping to develop the massage training program for SUNY Rockland Community College

Past/Present Clients
Privacy prevents me from filling in this section without prior consent from my clients. Life Experience: I have been specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries since receiving my NY massage license in 1989. A personal bout with carpal tunnel syndrome was the catalyst to my developing a self-treatment that heals the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome quickly and without surgery. My work with endurance athletes was the inspiration to teach people how to self-treat so they could stop pains even during a race or heavy training day. Both of these situations ultimately became the products that are sold on my websites: and I currently treat people in my offices in Sarasota, FL, Cary, NC, or Pearl River, NY

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