Insulin taking forever to work. Ever inject into calves?

Fasting 124, 12 Levemir & 2 Humalog - plain yogurt = 9 carbs. Walked for 40 min - after 1.5 hrs bg=185. So took 2 more units of Humalog. Still going up after 2 more hrs. Now 6 hrs later Dexcom is finally showing a down arrow. I’ll probably be low shortly.

. I’ve tried abdomen, thigh, arm - no luck. Even tried Fiasp. That was a waste.

So - I’m thinking of injecting into my calf to see if the insulin would work any faster, especially with exercise. Anything wrong with doing that?

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I do that all the time. It works great if you get a needle long enough to get into the muscle. Depending on your body, you may be able to reach it with a 1/2 inch needle, or you might need something longer.

You can get syringes with 1 inch needles, and 1/2 inch pen needles on Amazon without a prescription (at least I think this is possible for most states, not sure if there are some state restrictions for that).

But anyway, it works much faster, especially when you work the muscle by running or walking.


@Gracie9, I agree with @Eric2 's experience. When I was on MDI, I frequently used triceps, calves, thighs, and any major muscle group to get things working faster (with exercise/exertion). I used to purchased pen needles and syringes on Amazon for the price and variety of options, but in a pinch Walmart was my go-to. If you ask, Walmart will sell the syringes in a 10 pack bag so you are not obligated to purchase a box of 100.


Thanks @Eric2 and @El_Ver. I will try calves - only place left to try except my toes! Thanks again!

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How much time did you allow between your 2 units of Humalog and starting to eat your yogurt? I, almost always, pre-bolus for 30 minutes for breakfast. For a while I was prebolusing 60 minutes at breakfast. You could use your CGM and watch your glucose trace carefully to avoid any hypo surprises.

When you think about dosing insulin while trying to maintain good post-meal bGs, we only have two things with respect to insulin we control. Dose size and timing are the only insulin levers we can use. I think pre-bolusing is under-appreciated by the average insulin-using person with diabetes.

When was the last time you adjusted your insulin to carb ratio? Do you have different I:C ratios at different times of day? I use a more aggressive I:C ratio in the morning than later in the day.

And our docs, in general, are so hypo-phobic, don’t encourage more than a “token” pre-bolus time of 10 or 15 minutes. That might work in some situations but to use it like it’s some sacred rule is a mistake. Ponder’s “waiting for the CGM bend” is a brilliant tactic.

I think injecting insulin into muscle is a great technique to hasten insulin action. Congrats on your walking habit. It’s normally a super tactic to bring down high BGs.


Hi @Terry4. Thanks for all the tips. I did pre bolus and waited about 30 min. The Dexcom arrow was turned down. I had a really bad low during the night. Maybe it was a rebound from that. I’ve been having stubborn highs for the last month or so.

It’s just sometimes insulin works great and sometimes it’s like water. Looking for a fast method for correction.

Have an Endo appt next week, but I honestly feel I get better info here.

Thanks again.


Something I heard about but never tried is to inject intra-muscular and then place something heated over the area for 10-15 minutes, like a hot-pad or one of those devices people heat up in a microwave oven and use to treat muscle aches.

Stubborn highs can sometimes be hard to bring down. Are you satisfied that your basal insulin dose is correct? Maybe it needs to be re-calibrated.

That could easily be the source of your problem. A serious low (< 54 mg/dL or 3.0 mmol/L) can elicit a strong mix of counter-regulatory hormones that can create added insulin resistance for many hours afterward.

I hope you feel better!


late to the party, but I used to inject in calves and biceps all the time. Definitely found it faster.


Thanks @Thas. No luck with biceps. Probably not enough muscle. Will be trying calves next time.

Hi @Terry4. I have increased my basil gradually by about 20% over the past month or so. Giving it a week with each increment. Tomorrow I’ll go up a bit more.

My low last night was 42. Per Sugarmate. It’s where Dexcom would just say Low. So it really made me wake up & drag myself out of bed for some OJ. I started using the Sugarmate app this week out of curiosity & it’s a good adjunct to Dexcom. I don’t have a follower, but it gives the actual low number and a predicted high and low alert. Better alert sounds than Dexcom too. Thanks again.

Finally. After dinner my bg was 189 and going up. Injected 1 unit into my calf, did five minutes of running in place and Eureka! After 5 min my bg went down by 3. And now 20 min later I’m at 124. Still going down. I have a 1/2 unit pen that I will try the next time. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH. It’s a relief to finally find something that works!!


Enjoy hearing this conversation. I experience the exact same thing. I’m wondering if the concentration of the insulin has been damaged by heat before it was sold to the consumer?

I’m not seeing it mentioned but this would happen to me all the time until I started taking Jardiance. Look it up on this forum. I remember thinking it was the biggest medication improvement I’d ever taken. Especially my overnight BG levels. Huge improvement. You should talk to your doctor about it. They can write you a prescription “off-label” for it. I’m trying not to over state it but it really is amazing. Taking that and having the Medtronic 670G my A1C is down from 7.5 to 6.5.

All you guys out there are amazing. I thought that after 40 years I had heard most conversations diabeticn but injecting into muscle is new to me apart from my endo directing me away from my backside because it was too muscly.

When I was on humalog I learnt I had to inject 45 minutes before a meal as long as the trend arrow was not already down or the BG read low. That worked really well for me.

Of course the reason we can do all this is because of CGM which for me was life transforming. Anyone reading this and not knowing about it can go to my website to get the basic information on how and how much. Key article is All about CGM.

I am based in UK so the costing information refers to this country.

Forums are fantastic my knowledge of CGM has mainly come from them.