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/ Any suggestions what this injury might be?

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john arran - on 06 Dec 2018

I've been working in West Africa, with no climbing options, so switched to my usual alternative of running, which I've done a lot of over the years. Running maybe 5 day a week, mostly 6-9k as it's almost impossible to go further, for all sorts of reasons, mainly heat and humidity related.

One run last week, average pace as I was looking to go 8-9k, got to 5k and felt a pain in one calf. Thought it was cramp and slowed, but it didn't subside so after half a k more I stopped.

Rested for a couple of days but could still feel pain/tightness in the calf when testing running action, so I think it wasn't cramp at all. Rested a few more days until I could jog around the room without noticing it, then tried running again, similar pace or perhaps slower. Everything completely fine until 2k, when the exact same thing happened again, this time causing more of a slowdown, to a jog before no longer painful, so again I stopped.

I'm thinking it must be some kind of muscle tear but I've never had similar before. Any thoughts on what it might be? And how long to leave it before trying again?

 

webbo - on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to john arran:

I have had similar and the Physio thought it was a muscle tear but due to it resolving with physio quickly, he was then not sure. He thought it might be due to stretching before running which gave the message to your muscle that there is hard work coming so it shuts down.

This was in the days when stretching before running was all the rage. So I never stretched before running and didn’t get it again.

15 years later I did rupture my Achilles climbing and I have wondered if it was connected.

 

Stuart (aka brt) - on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to john arran:

I have the luxury of having a physio as a wife. I also run and have what sounds like a similar injury to yours. Mine is a tear which can rupture when I push on. I've had it approx 18 months (the cause was my heel hyper flexing as I miss-trod). Slow recovery with lots of calf raises and stretching the scar tissue now allows me to push on but unfortunately at my age (50) not much gets better with age and I can never bring myself to 'test it'. 

Of course your experience might differ but if it's not cramp... 

Good luck (and of course this is anecdotal internet based!).

john arran - on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

Thanks webbo and Stuart. Seems like I may have been right that it's a muscle tear, although it does feel odd that such a thing would happen with no trigger, i.e. going a normal speed on a normal road a normal distance into a run I've done plenty of times before.

Anyway, the positive part is that I get to finish this weekend and go home, thus being able to climb again - and putting an end to the need to run just to stay sane. Plenty of time to give the muscle chance to recover properly and I won't even notice that I'm not running! Happy days.

blackcat on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to john arran:Hi john, i had this problem a while ago, i saw two different physios and a doctor.The pain was lower down the back of my calf near achiles tendon and felt tight.The doctor asked if i had sprained my ankle recently, which i had last year,his advice was to strengthen my ankles first and to take it slowly then get back into running,one of the physios gave same advice.I set out an ankle strengthening plan over a period of six weeks starting with light easy excersises building up to calf raises,sprints, regular sessions on a wobble board, and its been fine since,hope this helps.

 

jk25002 - on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to john arran:

Chronic tight calves is what I've always called those symptoms. I had it from running too much at race pace in low shoes. It seems like the kind of thing which could be triggered by heat/humidity, or just the recent increase in your running. It felt like cramp, I'd give it a few days rest, then go for a jog and 5 minutes in my calves would cramp up again... and repeat.

In the first instance, a sensible treatment would involve: running a bit less/slower, and doing heel drops and calf stretches religiously. Also supportive shoes might help reduce the stress on your calves.

Be wary of ignoring it (personal experience here...): running with tight calves can put pressure on the achilles tendon insertion, and if that flares up it is a much longer recovery time, although with the same treatment of heel drops and stretches.

john arran - on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to jk25002:

> Chronic tight calves is what I've always called those symptoms.

You're probably onto something there. Even though I've been running quite often, that's pretty much the only time I've not been uncharacteristically inert, usually sat at a desk for far too long each day. And because the hotel is right next to work, I've hardly even walked anywhere.

Must learn for next time.

Thanks all. 

 

PaulTclimbing - on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to j

No doctor credentials but could it be compartment syndrome. Ive wondered over a sudden failure in calf in the past. I've treated it with deep massage of the calfs, but also the dorsal muscles neck down, glutes and lower back and all other leg muscles. I fell run/race but I've been injured in the lower back. Ive tried to keep going with painkillers/anti inflammatory tabs etc.  I could still run on my heals with a shuffle. Walking doesn't harm it. Carrying weights/rucksack may help. Been a couple of years and I have to watch the speed work. Back to long distance fell running but less of a calf problem in winter. I've noticed a vein in the leg and wonder if the pain is centred around this and circulation issues as above. I'm probably completely wrong as I once went to the doctor complaining of drying out of the knees. He said in over 30 years of medicine he hadn't heard of this condition. Still whatda they know!

 

ianstevens - on 06 Dec 2018
In reply to john arran:

Sounds like go-to-a-doctor-not-ask-on-the-internet syndrome to me

Snyggapa - on 07 Dec 2018
In reply to ianstevens:

But if you don't ask on the internet first, how are you going to tell the doctor that he is wrong...?

summo on 07 Dec 2018
In reply to john arran:

Google up on tennis leg, a general term used because it generally effects those over 40, who spend time sitting then usually blast for dose of exercise. It used to be Mon to Friday office workers who played hard tennis on a weekend. 

Not quite the right analogy for you, but the pain will be lower to outer calf. It will worsen as you train, you can not push through it as the muscle doesn't relax or warm up etc.. It can also be impacted or  combined with old ankle injuries, as that muscle joins a tendon that runs around the side of the ankle and under the foot. A lack of flex, stretch or mobility there, can put extra strain on the calf muscle when pushing off. 

Post edited at 08:01

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