Help the cyclist solve a lifting problem
January 10, 2020 6:51 AM   Subscribe

My cycling coach has me lifting weights 2x a week, which has done wonders for my sprints, for sure. However, I'm running into a weird problem with foot pain.

One exercise I'm doing is the calf press, using a machine very like this one (PlanetFitness link, but it's clear). The workout calls for 4 sets of 15, and per coach I should "feel like I could do 4-6 more".

The problem is that the weight indicated by that guideline (270) is kind of painful on the balls of my feet. Heretofore, it was just a during-the-sets thing, but this morning my feet are still sore from the workout last night.

Am I likely doing something wrong? Or is this a shoe choice problem? I work out in runners, since I start with 15 minutes on a treadmill to warm up. Should I be using some other shoes?
posted by uberchet to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I would go for shoes that are much more neutral. Running shoes tend to be not-great lifting shoes - they are designed to support the foot doing one thing and pretty much one thing only, and calf raises involve a different kind of flexion. I lift in barefoot-style shoes by choice (I live in barefoot-style shoes) but even something like Sketchers with a flat sole would let your foot move how it wants to.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:55 AM on January 10, 2020


Some general sports advice, not to be taken as medical, first aid or training advice.

If your foot feels otherwise fine (no radiating pain, metatarsals move fine, no pain in your arches when you rub them) then I agree with restless_nomad; it's probably a shoe problem.

If you have other discomfort then I would see physio at your earliest convenience and avoid strenuous work until then.
posted by mce at 7:15 AM on January 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


I agree with restless_nomad that lifting in running shoes is probably a bad idea. Another classic lifting shoe is Chuck Taylors -- flat, firm soles, and they're comparatively pretty cheap. Or there are certainly people in the gym where I lift who take off their shoes between lifts and do it in sock feet.
posted by LizardBreath at 7:16 AM on January 10, 2020 [1 favorite]


I'd definitely switch shoes for weights -- either flat shoes or socks are fine. You generally want something with very little cushion for your soles. I mostly do socks, but have done vans -- chuck taylors are classic as well.
posted by jeather at 12:45 PM on January 10, 2020


Based on my own experience, I definitely wouldn't keep doing anything that makes your feet hurt. The workout you describe there might be the right weight and number of reps for the current state of development of your calf muscles, but there are a lot of other systems involved in doing this exercise, such as the tendons, ligaments, muscles, bones (ever heard of the sesamoids? They're two bean-sized bones in the ball of your foot, but if they get chipped, cracked, or whatever you're in for a hell of a ride . . . ), and so on.

Muscles develop strength very quickly if given proper training, but your tendons and ligaments can lag behind by something like 10 times. Or if you are somehow doing something that damages them (which could be something specific you are doing, like shoes, or simply something related to your genetics or specific anatomy), they might never develop the strength/endurance necessary and in fact might continually deteriorate.

Also, if you damage tendons/ligaments, they are very slow to heal. They don't have their own independent blood supply, so they sort of depend on various nutrients etc to sort of gradually leech in from neighboring tissue. Regardless of those precise details, injury recovery time for tendon/ligament injuries is typically measured in many weeks to months--and can be a fair bit longer than, say, recovery from a bone fracture.

Hopefully you're not in that territory yet, but my point is: You don't want to go there. Just be conservative and don't do things that hurt. It's one thing to have a muscle that "hurts" because you're asking it to do one more set or rep or the next higher weight.

It's quite another--and not something you should just push through--when other parts of you are hurting.

Feet are very delicate systems and if you're cycling a lot of miles, you're already giving them a pretty hard workout.

Personally I would back way off this exercise, take a long break from it, for starters, until completely recovered, then try to troubleshoot and eliminate the cause, and then next time around start with much lower weights, reps, and sets, and only very very gradually work back up to where you are. And if you're feeling foot pain, that is your signal to back way off again.

My $.02 based on my own experience as a non-expert; take it for what it's worth.
posted by flug at 12:59 PM on January 10, 2020 [4 favorites]


I'm gonna back off & look for a flatter shoe as well. Thanks all.
posted by uberchet at 4:12 PM on January 13, 2020 [1 favorite]


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