I tore my right calf in June, 2012, playing softball. It's been a slow recovery. At this point, I'm getting into running. Some days I have no problem. Others is tightens up severely to the point I feel like I'm going to injure it again. Aside from stretching, can anyone provide some suggestions on how to deal with this? I'm more interested in the mental aspect. Frankly, I'm scared to death that I'm going to injure myself and that's really hindering me from pressing myself to run further/faster in my training.
have you been cleared by a doctor to start running? if you feel like it's going to injure it again, i'd stop. your body's pretty good at indicating when there's a probme and if you ignore it you're only going to give yourself more problems.
Stretching is not a great way to handle a torn muscle, even if it is healed. There may be other soft-tissue therapies like ART to break up the scar tissue and address spasms, but effectiveness depends on how fresh an injury is, and whether or not your activity is preventing it from healing.
When tightness comes and goes, it is more likely to be due to muscle spasm. After a deep injury, you need to develop the confidence that comes from being able to control the injured site. If I were you, I'd study up on techniques for self-managing myofascial pain and restriction as part of your game plan. This puts the power back into your hands and improves your confidence, which should have a positive influence on the likelihood of spasms interrupting your training.
A stretch is done ostensibly to loosen a muscle, but a spasm takes all that back. Learn to handle the spasms, and stretching won't be necessary. A relaxed muscle and relaxed frame of mind often go hand in hand.
I've suffered through two instances of a torn calf muscle (doc called it a "micro-tear") and it sucks. It flat out will not heal if you run on it - you really have to baby it. In my case, after the first tear, scar tissue was formed, weakening that area of the muscle and which also led to my second muscle tear. To me it felt like an ice pick was being jammed into my calf.
At the urging of a fellow runner, I ultimately went to a physical therapy and they did wonders with deep massage (to break up the scar tissue and to stimulate blood flow) and some ultra-sound technique, along with some exercises to build up the strength of that muscle area. With their help I was able to get in 2 HM's (I had hoped to do at least 1 marathon, but I didn't want to push it).
Consider seeing your doc and getting some PT.
gbelhorn: hope you have recovered... and able to resume your activity, from everything i've read on Sprains/tears/strained calves... it sounds like the consensus is a lot of rest and (RICE).. "REST/ICE/COMPRESSION/ELEVATE"
My question to "JUSTAMANIAC"... "how much time passed from your last injury and the two HM's you ran??"
I've been "babying" my own injury (ice-pick-- perfect descriptioin) for over a week now and have been keeping my work-outs to swimming laps in my local gym.
All the while still planning on running the OC 1/2 fer in a little over two weeks! Nervous and at this point trying to avoid injury by just finishing it and not concerned about my PR.
Appreciate any feedback-
Here's an article that seems to have helped a number of people. Plus it reflects ideas similar to what JamesJohnson suggested. Note it uses "The Stick" which is not a requirement. Other techniques, including massage and possibly foam roller may work well.
Response to Ninerman72 re how long between the injury and running the HM's... It was 6 weeks before I could (would) attempt to run - which is an eternity to a runner. But my doc was emphatic about my not wanting to re-tear the scar tissue. So I listened and then restarted my programs. PT really helped me accelerate my training. Once I started running again I did the first HM 5 weeks later. My first runs were very cautious, very low miles, no hills. Ice, elevation. I saw my PT regularly and he worked my calf well. My last 3 weeks were hard, but good. My time sucked for the first HM, but I was being careful, and my second HM, two weeks later was worse - it was incredibly hot and humid, and again, I did not want to break something.
Thanks maniac-- that puts this injury into perspective. I already decided to hold off on my next Halfer in early May... sucks, but i want to be injury free when i decide to start putting some serious miles back on and the last thing i wanto to do is set myself back again.
At this point, i'm about 3 weeks removed from my last injury and was able to do a walk/jog that i took from the following article and so far so good... continuing the massage as well, I will beat it.
Note to anyone using sticks or foam rollers: It is not emphasized in the literature or videos, but use of these tools to affect soft tissue is subject to the same rules as Swedish Massage. Rule #1: When using gliding pressure of any kind on the arms or legs, always move the pressure in the direction of circulation, which is from the end of the limb towards the heart. It may be less convenient to do it this way, but you are trying to help yourself, no?
There are valves in your lymphatic and blood vessels that force fluids like lymph and blood to flow in this direction only. They are there for a reason. If you do it the other way, you are not only wasting your time, you are risking injury to those important structures in your veins. People have sent me private messages about damage done (bruising, varicosities) running these appliances in the wrong direction, so I need to warn you before you learn it the hard way.
There is a reason why massage is a licensed profession in most states, and requires malpractice insurance: because it can be used to hurt people. Though you are not required to take a course in massage before using these tools on yourself, it does not free you from the responsibility to treat your body right. Also, to those making videos and posting them on Youtube, please listen up: People are watching these and doing them the same way you do them, whether it is right or wrong. If you don't know what you are doing, please defer to someone else who does. Thank you.
Just thought I'd update, so anyone out there can be encouraged that recovery is possible and "knock on wood" the road to injury-free running.
I'm over two months removed from this dreaded injury and so far, with the help of lots of rest, self-massaging and run-therapy (from the Stick article) I'm feeling pretty good ... so good that I'm taking the plunge for my first full marathon & training program for October. Just to give you all a little more insight in recovery and don't think i just got off the couch to take on 26.2 ... I followed the "run-therapy" and really took my time before i tested my legs.Beginning w/ the "run/walk" routine and increased little each week. I know as runners-- that's tough, but trust me, just walk and take your time... don't push it.
I'm up to being able to run my 8mi morning run at an easy pace w/ no ill-effects. I continue the self-massaging and have even implemented some yoga positions for overall core 'n balance.
So in short, rest and rest some more with compression, ice in the beginning week or so before you even think of speed walking and then light jogging. I know how tough it is for runners to "shut it down" but if there is any silver-lining to injuries... you learn to run safely and smarter. Happy running!
Congrats...! I am sure that it feels like you've missed so much (time running and/or training), but it is way better to be healthy than "sort-of" ok. Happy running!