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Piriformis/Sciatic nerve/calf cramp

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've been battling a problem with my right calf cramping while running. Here's a brief history of recent events of what I've been dealing with. Tell me if all this related, if you've had anything like this, and what worked to overcome it.

April 5, I did the NO 70.3. I was under-trained for it. Had to push very hard for last 20 miles of the bike into a rough headwind. Climbed 2 steep bridges in the last 8 miles. Very rough run. Hot, humid. Around mile 6, I started getting a pain in my right butt. Never had this before - ever. Assumed it was piriformis muscle.

The next 2 - 3 days, I sat on the trigger point ball, trying to work out this pain in my butt. It got a little better. Lower back was very stiff. Did a lot of stretching.

4th day, I go for first run after the HIM. Easy 4 miler. At one a half miles, my right calf cramps up - bad. Had to walk home.

Waited about a week. Still working on trigger point ball, doing strecthes, etc. Not really sure what's going on. Tried running again. Made 3/4 of a mile. Right calf cramps up again - bad. This is easy running BTW, 9-10 min pace. I don't have any pain in piriformis area, but I can tell that somethings just not right with my right side lower back and right leg.

Make appt to see my chiro. He says Piriformis muscle can strain the Sciatic nerve and the pain can bypass upper leg and show up in lower leg, therefore, calf cramp. He does the usual lower back ajustments on me. But we both notice that my lower back is extremely tight. He does electro therapy also. We do this for a week or so. Then he also starts decompression on lower back.

I don't follow his orders and I try running again after a week. Make it 3/4 of a mile and calf cramps again. Ok, so I'm hard-headed. I learned. I don't run for a couple weeks. I keep seeing chiro 3 times a week, don't have any major pain anymore.

Try running again and make it 3 miles with no cramp. Try again 2 days later and go 3 miles with no cramp. Ok, good, making progress. Couple days later, bike 25 easy miles with 2 mile easy brick - no cramp. Next day, run 3 easy miles - no cramp. Run 2 miles, get a cramp again. Crap!

Talked to chiro again today after therapy. He says, "You know, you're 41, how many people your age and older do you see running marathons? Your days of running and triathlon may be over" Blah, blah, blah I'm not buying that. I believe he knows his field. He's been doing this for many, many years. But, I not believeing that. I'm gonna get this fixed somehow. I have a referral to a sports PT from a tri buddy of mine. Gonna see what else I can do.

Anyone else have something like this? How'd you deal with it? My running/triatlons days aren't over. I gotta find a way to get over this.
post #2 of 25
Had simmilar issues since boston. I will respond more later. Pt says it is PF / ITB and othere. More later
post #3 of 25
Are you at a chiro or SPORTS chiro?

Graston and ART all the way!

Poor kyle is broken!
post #4 of 25
Graston and ART rock!!!

I wish I had someone in my town who did them......
So, instead, I just make arrangements to go to lunch or dinner with Tithers on the days that I have to go see Dr. Nik.
post #5 of 25
Ok.. about a week before Boston, I got a pain in my side, pretty mild. I went and got a massage and she helped me stretch it out and figured it was PF, ITband, and some glute. During the marathon, it pretty much blew up. Since then, I've been fighting it and having the same problem. I went to the sport med dr. and they said they didn't think it was much major, but subscribed PT. Since then, they want me to stretch the PF, the ITBand, and expect it to take time. I can run as much as I can handle the pain, but based on what you saying, it sounds the same.

One thing I've noticed is that it is more than just the PF and ITBand. I've had pain in my VMO, my calf, and my quads. I am notoriously tight, so one thing being off has completely thrown me off. After PT on Thursday, I was sore, and the told me to really make sure to use my Ball to hit the PF and losen it of, and also to make sure to use the foam roller on the ITBand, go all the way down to the knee and roll in and out on your hip so you don't just work one spot. From there, you just need to go easy and wait it out. I can run as long as it doesn't hurt and feel like it's getting worse.

So, I would say try a massage, or ART (a good MT, will do some ART) and I am scared of Graston if it is what I think it is, but I'm a big Pansy when it comes to Pressure points and often have to hold back tears in a massage.

Oh, I went for a speed workout this am, and while the pain is better, I know that when I am all roughed up, the pain is all over the place, and not just where I would expect it to be, so feel out the problem.
post #6 of 25
Graston is where they take these surgical steel or purple ceramic tools and scrape away scar tissue.
post #7 of 25
Yeah, I'm a pansy.. no thanks!!
post #8 of 25
post #9 of 25
and proud of it!
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
A quick Google search doesn't show anyone in this area that does ART. How do I find the closest location that has one?

No, my chiro is not a sports chiro. He says he used to run years ago, but he doesn't "get it" when I talk about marathon, triathlon, etc. Listening to him, you'd think that when you turn 40, you have to shut down all physical activity. Even when I first started going to him 3 or 4 years ago, from listening to him, you'd swear that when a person hits 40, that it's all over.

However, he and I do agree that there is something going on in my right side lower back. And I can feel it. Since that HIM, something there just doesn't feel right.
post #11 of 25
I think there might be an ART network or something where you can search for your closest practitioner. I think there's one in Alabama, but due to my location, driving to ATL to see Tithers' Dr. Nik is actually more convenient for me.
post #12 of 25


You can use that site with your zip code to find someone close. Dr. Nik said to try to find someone who's "full body" certified.
post #13 of 25
Been running long enough to know that the first paragraph above is accurate. Rarely does the piriformis cause such stress on the sciatic that you experience calf cramp, but it can happen. It's all intertwined, and it is stemming from either a tight piriformis, tight back muscle, or both (each can trigger then other, so hard to tell which came first).

Piriformis/Sciatic issues suck. I've been dealing with sciatic issues since Boston Marathon 2005. No kidding. It is much better now, but it is still there.

As for the second paragraph, first off anybody who tells you that you can't do something, if they don't have a better answer then ignore them. Really.

Second, this is exactly why it is important for you with a sports injury/condition to see a sports doctor. I've been told the very same things you have... "you know, you are getting older..." Uh, yeah, sure, that's great and all, doc, but you know, I just knocked off a marathon a month for two years and did three Ironman. I used to be able to run. And now I can't. This has little to do with the babble spewing from your mouth.

Find a new doctor.
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
I was able to see the sports PT guy this afternoon. He and his wife work together. They are both runners. They understand. What a difference it was.

Instead of hearing "You're running days may be over". I heard, "This can be worked out, we've both had disc problems, we're still running. It may take you a few weeks, you may not be able to train during that time, but you'll get better."

They noticed some things about my back. Small things that my chiro had never mentioned, whether he had seen them or not. They took actions to actually work on those areas. They actually showed me the stretches that I need to be doing and told me to stop the ones that I was doing on my own. I need to be working more on my lower back than my on piriformis.

Much better experience and I was actually encouraged when I left there.

I'm gonna ask them about ART tomorrow and see what they recommend.

Thanks for the replies everyone.
post #15 of 25
I got ART and Graston today on my back. Tellin' ya! Works WONDERS!

Maybe you, Dawn and Emily need to come to my part of town to get ART! Then you can take the family to Stone Mountain! 2 free beds chez Tithers.
post #16 of 25
He Grastoned your back? Wow......
Was that more or less tender than when he does the hammies?
post #17 of 25
He was gentle on me cuz I'm pregnant. All parts hurt equally when grastoned.

Sara...I've gotten the following things Grastoned since 2007:
-left arm
post #18 of 25
Oh, an NO! I did not grab his penis this time.
post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
Ok, I found two ART providers in Lafayette. That's just an hour drive away. I'll check into it. Thanks for that link Sara.
post #20 of 25
Kyle, glad to hear that your experience with PT was much better. My piriformis is super tight, though luckily I haven't had any sciatic issues. A good PT can help you a lot. Stretching and strengthening should help though it may take a while. It took a long time to get where you are now, be ready that it may take twice the amount of time to get better. Just don't give up. It took me good two years to get over my injury. Good luck.
post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 
Well, I have to get over this now (and I will). The guy that's working on me now is registered for the Goofy Challenge in Jan. So is my friend that referred me to him. So, I registered too! The three of us are gonna run it.

And afterwards, I think I may send a copy of the finish pics to my chiro that says my running days may be over.
post #22 of 25
Kyle...the fact that the guy who's working on you is going to the same race as you will be a big plus...he'll understand the mileage needs between then and now.
post #23 of 25

How did this story end???

post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 

This story ended well.

We got the whole problem under control and we did the Goofy Challenge.

I can now manage it on my own by doing pressups when needed.


However, other injuries have come up since then.

Sept, 09 I got PF in my left foot. It's never gone away, no matter what we try, but it doesn't bother me while I run.

Have a inflamed bicep tendon in right shoulder. Don't know why that's bothering me, probably did something at work. I can swim, but can't turn my arm certain directions.

And a couple weeks ago I started having IT band issues in right knee after running on some trails.


I'm falling apart

Edited by kylemcm - 9/7/10 at 4:19am
post #25 of 25

Hi there

Your story sounds very familiar to mine. I was competing at a high level in triathlon 10 years ago and had identical symptoms to you. Sorry to say the docs were right and I have never been able to run again due to calf cramp from lower back injury.....Tried everything so pls let me know if you have any success.

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