Your calf muscles propel your feet off the ground.
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The aggressive, challenging Insanity workout program, developed by personal trainer Shaun T, uses body-weight exercises, plyometrics and high-intensity interval training to whip you into shape. The program is available on a series of DVDs or in classroom settings offered in health clubs across the nation. Due to the rigorous nature of the program, even the distributors of the program recommend that it's only performed by people who already have a good baseline fitness level. Even with this prerequisite, though, you could experience soreness or pain following some of the workouts -- especially in the calf muscles, which are key to running, walking and jumping.
Too Much Too Soon
The American Council on Exercise notes that the Insanity program is generally safe if you are in good shape and have no underlying orthopedic issues. Your definition of good shape, however, might not be enough for a program that involves lots of high-impact, intense moves. If your regular workouts consist of low-impact activities, such as brisk walking, swimming or cycling, your calves could be shocked by the Insanity workout and be quite sore for a few days afterward. To minimize this shock, ease into the program gradually. The DVD program offers a progressive method that gradually builds up your fitness level over the first month. Following this progression can help you adjust to the highest intensities that come later in the program. If you are attending Insanity fitness classes, explain to your instructor that you are new and ask if she can offer modifications for the highest-impact moves.
Insanity involves a lot of plyometric, or jumping, exercises. While these powerful moves such as jump squats and flying jacks are effective calorie-burners and heart-rate raisers, they do offer the potential for injury. Before doing plyometrics, you should properly warm up. If you skipped through the warmup section of the DVD workout, you could end up with calf pain the next day. In addition to being in supreme shape before doing plyometrics, you should also ensure you use proper form. Pay close attention to Shaun T's form cues when doing the DVD Insanity program or your instructor's form in a class; if you don't, you could unknowingly land wrong or put too much stress on your calves, resulting in pain.
Do the Shoes Fit?
Wearing the wrong type of shoes during your workout can result in calf pain. Old shoes that have lost their cushioning will cause undue stress throughout your entire lower body. Running shoes are also a poor option because they offer little in the way of lateral stability -- they are designed to make you an efficient runner, which is a forward movement. Cross trainers are usually your best bet as they offer lateral support and some cushioning in the heel. Look for a shoe that is flexible yet still offers support and adequate cushioning so the impact forces of jumping during your Insanity workout don't reverberate up your calves.
Monitor the Pain
If the calf soreness and pain dissipates in a day or two, it's likely just a natural reaction to the new challenge of the exercises. If you experience any swelling or bruising on your lower leg, you should consult your health care provider. Even if you can walk, you could have experienced a minor calf strain that requires monitoring by a physician or physical therapist. If you have trouble walking, you may have suffered a major calf strain or tear that definitely requires medical treatment.