Hi Hayley, 

I'm writing for two reasons: 

First reason: when I work out I'm in a lot of pain after. I've had shin splints in the past and now get them touch and go. But I get really knotty calves from working out. I use my stress balls on my calves almost daily, as sometimes when they're really bad and it leads to back pain. I stretch and foam roll a couple times a week, but it doesn’t help.  I've been doing The Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines on and off but lately I've been on a roll and sticking to it. It's just frustrating because when I work out I constantly feel like I need massages, a splurge I don't usually do. 

Secondly, I just want skinny/toned legs. For the life of me it feels like they'll never get there! I can feel the fat on the front of my thighs, and it makes pants so hard. Plus, I'm small on top, narrow shoulders/ribs and small bust, so if my thighs were slimmer I'd look more balanced. I know I know, you can't do spot fat reduction but perhaps I'm not doing enough cardio? Kayla has you walking quickly for 35 - 45 minutes 3x a week, but maybe I need to do more?

Would love your insight. 




People get sore after workouts, it’s normal as long as it doesn’t affect your day to day activity. But it sounds to me like this is affecting you daily. If you are serious about trying to fix this it is going to take some investigating, a lot of effort, and a positive attitude.  

Start by booking yourself in with a physiotherapist (it is worth the investment) and have them do a one-over on your body to see if there are any biomechanical issue they can help you with. Maybe you need to work on the mobility of your ankles or the strength of your feet, or perhaps something is coming from your back. Whatever it is, there is an underlying problem that needs to be sorted out. One or two sessions should be fine as long as you do everything the physiotherapist prescribes to you. It will only work if you do what they say.

You are also going to want to take a look at what you are doing for exercising as what you are doing now may not be working for you. I find that a lot of home workout videos prescribe a lot of ballistic exercises (jumping, bouncing) and if you are not doing them correctly, lack the strength in your body (legs and core) to do them correctly or you just lack the knowledge on how to do them, you could be doing more damage than good. I would suggest you take out the jumping and and add some kind of yoga to your regime. Any jumping exercise can be modified to a low impact version and if you want to keep the intensity up, do more of them or hold onto weights as you do them. I know we all want those workouts that burn as many calories as possible (which yoga can do when done well) but you also need to give back to your body. If you are constantly pushing yourself to the max but never giving anything back to it to help it recover, you will eventually hit the wall. Work with your physiotherapist to create something that works for you, at least until you figure out your calf issues.

As to your recovery, ask yourself honestly how good your nutrition is. Are you drinking enough water and eating enough of a variety of foods to ensure you are getting a variety of vitamins and minerals? Supplements are always an option but if you read anything about nutrition, the advice is to get as much nutrition from real food as you can. It is not about going on a diet but making sure the food you eat is natural and healthy. Your body cannot become stronger if you are not fueling it properly.  

If none of this works, I would suggest seeing your doctor or a naturopath to dive even deeper into these symptoms, but I have a feeling that if you start with the above, your pains could subside.

For skinny and toned legs, you know what I’m going to say: learn to love the body that you have and be grateful for all that your body can do for you. We live in a difficult time right now where we are inundated with photos of women (and men) filtered to make them look a certain way.  We see photos of people who may look healthy but in the reality of health, they are not. What you see online are two dimensional images.  They are not real life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t strive to look the best that you can look. We are all born with a genotype that determines how our body is made up. You can’t change that, but you can achieve what’s right for you, it just takes a lot of dedication and hard work. There is no simple answer except continuing to exercise and eat healthy. Your legs may always be thicker than you would like but they are your legs and you are beautiful. I feel if you address the soreness in your body as I suggested above it will lead to more changes than just your knotty calves. And perhaps a little bit of self-love…

Start there and when you are pain-free we can start to address how to get you the strong body I know you want.