Last updated on September 19th, 2022 at 03:15 pm
Who else wants to know, “Why Do Jumping Jacks Hurt My Calves?”
Jumping jacks are probably one of the most basic yet effective exercises.
We typically first learned to perform them at school, although many of us never return to doing them again.
However, jumping jacks are a great cardio and conditioning tool, which makes them ideal if you want to lose weight and burn body fat.
That being said, jumping jacks don’t come without their issues.
And one such problem is an aching or discomfort in your calves.
So, what exactly is going on here?
Why Do Jumping Jacks Hurt My Calves?
Your calves will hurt if you’ve only recently started doing jumping jacks or you have significantly increased your volume. You should also ensure that you land with your feet either straight or slightly turned out. By having your feet turned inwards you are placing additional stress on the calves. The discomfort in your calves can also be caused by a change in footwear, or simply that your training shoes are very old. Additionally, weak feet or ankles, or tight calves, could be the issue.
1. “Shock to the System” (New Exercise or Higher Volume)
The most common reason that jumping jacks hurt your calves is that you’re new to doing them.
Much the same as any exercise, irrespective of how simple it is, the first few times you perform a new movement your body is likely to ache.
Most jumping and plyometric-based leg exercises will engage the calves to great effect.
In fact, if you’re struggling to force your calves to grow then jumping could help to stimulate growth.
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With that being said, a significant increase in volume could also impact your calves, even if you’re used to doing jumping jacks.
If ever you do any type of bootcamp or martial arts training you’ll end up performing many sets of jumping jacks.
It’s not unheard-of to hit 400-500 jumping jacks in a training session, and this of course will have an effect on your calves.
2. Are You Turning Your Feet Inwards?
As with any exercise, you should be wary of your form, as poor technique can lead to aches and pains, or even a potential injury.
And jumping jacks are certainly no different.
One of the main points to look out for is how you land on your feet on the “legs out movement”.
There is a tendency for the feet to turn slightly inwards, and this is especially true as you start to fatigue.
By landing with your feet slightly inwards you will place additional stress on the calves.
Furthermore, this is an unnatural ankle position, so be wary that you don’t cause yourself an injury.
Ideally, you will want to land either with your feet pointing straight ahead or turned slightly outwards.
You’ll still get all the same benefits, your calves will still get a great workout, but you won’t be placing undue pressure on both the calves and the ankles.
3. New or Old Training Shoes
Your footwear could be the reason that your calves hurt from jumping jacks.
You have to remember that you will typically be “bouncing” a few hundred times.
So, the way you land on your feet is extremely important.
Therefore, if you’ve recently started wearing new training shoes this could well explain your calf soreness.
Basically, your feet need to get used to the training shoes and also how your ankles and calves react to the impact of “jumping”.
You’ll typically find that as you become more used to your new training shoes you’ll feel far less discomfort in your calves.
Funnily enough, particularly old training shoes could also have an effect on your landing.
You may find that you are sliding ever so slightly when you land.
Then again, your training shoes may be slightly turned out or turned in, which means that you won’t land perfectly on the balls of your feet.
And this once more could be the cause of your calf pain.
4. You Have Weak Ankles or Feet (or Both)
It’s not often that we train the ankles or the feet.
However, just as with any other body part, you can definitely improve strength, mobility, and flexibility in these areas.
In fact, training your feet and ankles could have a massive knock-on effect on your training in general.
One of the main exercises that we all typically perform, i.e. squats, requires a great deal of flexibility in the ankles.
You’ll find that the stronger and more flexible your ankles are, the better your squat form will be.
You’re more likely to squat deeper, as well as maintain a more upright body position.
And of course the better you perform an exercise like squats, the more overall muscle, strength, and fat loss benefits you’ll achieve.
The exact same could be said for the feet.
You may never have thought about training your feet before.
However, once more, this could have a dramatic impact on a wide variety of exercises you regularly perform.
So, if you are experiencing calf pain from jumping jacks it could well be time to turn your attention to strengthening your ankles and feet.
Foot and Ankle Strengthening & Stretch Exercise Program
5. You Have Tight Calves
Something else to consider is that you may have tight calves.
This is actually more common than you may think, as we spend much of our everyday lives using the calves in some way, e.g. walking, standing up, sitting down.
Basically, the main reason that calves are so hard to grow is because they get so much use on a daily basis.
So, typically “three sets of ten” isn’t going to cut it.
However, due to the constant use you may find that your calves have become extremely tight.
Additionally, you may even have a mild injury that would otherwise pass by unnoticed.
However, as soon as you start performing jumping jacks and bringing your calves to the fore, you notice the pain and discomfort straight away.
One of the best cures for tight calves would be to use a lacrosse ball for myofascial release.
The myofascial tissues are basically tough membranes that are connected to the muscles.
They also happen to support the muscles by wrapping themselves around them.
So, as a way of getting them “unknotted” you would perform myofascial release.
Myofascial Release Technique For Tight Calf Muscles
6. Take a Look at Your Diet & Nutrition
As with most things that are health-related your diet and nutrition plays a huge part.
And this could most certainly be the reason behind your calf pain from jumping jacks.
Firstly, if you notice that the pain subsides after a day or two this could indicate cramping of the calves.
And the number one reason for calf cramps will typically be dehydration.
Firstly, it’s important to drink water every single day purely for health reasons.
However, you should also increase your water intake based on your levels of physical activity.
In addition to a lack of water causing cramps, it could also be due to a low sodium diet or low blood sodium.
It’s not often that we’re told that we should consume more salt, but once again based on your levels of activity this could well be the case.
Basically, your salt levels could be low.
Don’t forget that when you sweat you lose both water and sodium from the body.
Therefore, it’s equally important to replace both.
I guess most of us think about replacing water when we sweat a lot, but not a lot of thought goes into replacing sodium.
And both a loss of water or sodium can lead to cramps, which could be the reason for your calf pain.
So, I hope you have a better understanding of why jumping jacks hurt your calves.
Initially, this may simply be due to the exercise being new to you, or that you recently increased your volume of jumping jacks.
However, it’s also important to consider how you’re landing on your feet, as well as your ankle and foot strength.
Additionally, if you have tight calves or are prone to cramping this could explain your calf discomfort.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.