Sunday, March 27, 2011

What To Do if You Strain Your Calf Muscle

Yesterday began my 25 week countdown to the Asheville Citizen-Times Half Marathon. I really wanted to run a particular time so I set my self a long training window. Day one was great with an easy couple of miles. Then I had my son's soccer game, of which I'm the coach. While warming up with the kids, I chased after a stray ball, got ahead of it, turned my foot so the ball would stop - and POP...pulled my calf muscle. The technical term is a "Calf Strain". This is where the muscle pulls away from the tendon, hence the "popping" sound.

The best way to treat this is to stop all activity - so my 25 week plan is going to be shorter - until the pain is gone and you can walk, run etc...with no pain. In the meantime, you should practice everyone's favorite acronym R.I.C.E. In case you've been living in a cave, or just have a horrible memory, R.I.C.E stands for:
  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation
Rest is obvious. Don't try running, playing soccer, or any other sport. Try to stay off it as much as you can.

Ice is just that. I actually use an ice pack like you would put in a lunch box, but my favorite is a frozen bag of peas. Because the peas are so small, the frozen bag easily molds to the contour of your leg.

Compression - let's get back to this one in a moment - but basically you want to wrap it or wear a neoprene sleeve. Again, more about this is a minute.

Elevation means keep it raised up so the blood doesn't pool into your foot or lower leg.

O.K. - Compression. Knock on wood, but it's been a long time since I've had an injury. In fact, in all my years of running, I've not had a running injury. After all, this incident was warming up with the soccer team - not while training for my half.

Anyway, I went to get an ACE bandage and to my surprise, the old metal catch-claw is a thing of the past. Now, the ACE bandages are self adhesive. Just wrap and stick. WOW - that sounded so easy and it actually was very easy.  Start at the ankle and wind up the leg pulling it a little tight, but not too tight. No problem - piece of cake.

One teeny-tiny detail that the directions left off turned out to be a vital piece of information. Pre-wrap. You see, you only want to compress for a while, not around the clock. I went to remove the ACE bandage and it hurt like H-E-double hockey sticks! The self adhesive is great - except that it sticks not only to itself - but to the hairs on your leg. I suppose I should have known this, but since I've never had a running injury, nor has anyone I've trained had a running injury, I've not had reason to need to use an ACE bandage. The last time I had to use one for something my kid did, it still had the metal catch-claw that held the bandage on.  Had I used a thin layer of pre-wrap, the ACE bandage would have come off nice and easy, rather than sticking to my skin and leg hairs!

It's only been a day, and already I can put more pressure on it.  In fact, I moved a piece of furniture - so much for the "rest" part of R.I.C.E., eh?

I don't think I'll be out of commission too long.  Maybe just a couple of weeks...maybe just one as it seems to be healing fast.

1 comment:

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