Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by AlwaysImproving, Jul 2, 2011.
You should do the smart thing and wait at least 4 weeks. It's not worth the reinjury.
You probably are good enough to do baseline drills for the next few weeks. I'd still hold off on match play.
This has happened to me twice. First time was in the second set after a long battle hitting, and second time was in the 3rd set after over 2 hours of hitting, and at that time of singles playing I was warmed up and stretched good after all that time, so I cannot see how any stretching ahead of time will help prevent this other than maybe in theory only.
One of those things that happen and I really do not believe anything can prevent this outside of just not hitting.
Found out the hard way earlier that I'm not ready and was being too optimistic (walking was feeling fine - honest!) Was crossing the road, and as I was half way across, cars started coming, so instinctly I tried to jog the rest of the distance to the other side, but I felt a sharp stabbing pain, injured leg didn't feel as if it could push off properly, and I was in agony when I got to the other side...
Got home and tried to press up off on the ground onto my toes using the damaged leg but couldn't really do it without the calf feeling very sore and painful. Could sort of do it when using both feet but the right calf (the injured one) still felt sore and weak. It's obviously not healed yet, lol. Calf muscle feels soooo tight when doing the stretching exercises (that I should have been doing more of).
I think I'm going to have to do things properly and actually follow the physio's programme of stretching and gradual strength building exercises, and only try playing again, when the calf doesn't doesn't feel sore/painful when doing the exercises. I'm starting to think it might have been more of bigger tear than a minor one.
Looks it like it really is going to be early January before I'm back (physio's original estimate). Bah!
Sorry to hear that Torres.
I had to sit out 2 months with wrist tendinitis. It sucks man.
On a positive note, I started cycling to replace the desire to play tennis and that helped a lot. So even though you could not do that, you will figure out something to keep yourself busy that you enjoy and the time goes by a little faster.
Are most of the people getting this injury middle aged (30-40s)? I'm 48.
It's really discouraging to hear that you can't prevent it.
I got it at age 30.
I couldn't resist it, so I dropped into one of my club's social sessions (mostly older women or improver type players playing doubles) to have an hour's hit.
I made sure that I didn't run, and also tried not to do anything that required pushing off on my right leg.
When you try not to use your right leg, its just weird. You can't position yourself properly for forehands (unless the ball comes to you perfectly positioned), and neither can you push off with your right leg. It's really weird trying to use only your upper body and arm. It's like half the stroke is missing. Same with serves - you can't push up with your right leg.
Still, it was nice to have a little bunt to cure the boredom. Don't think were any ill effects, though the inside of the calf felt a big 'stingy' today, though I'm not sure if that was partly due to upping the stretches and toe raise exercises. Think I'll have a week off just doing stretches and exercises, before maybe having a little bunt again next weekend.
I was tempted as well. I'm only a 3.5-4.0 still developing my game so I was worried about developing some bad habits w/ only using upper body and not really transferring weight off the right leg. I'll h old off another month, I think - but still there are no guarantees that this won't happen again, unfortunately.
I don't know but I think that running and then stopping with a stretched calf - especially to reverse direction - might be more stressful than pushing off. ??
I had found a chart in a book that listed very approximate healing times. For tendons I believe it listed 2-6 months.
What have you guys found for healing time?
Same injury 4 weeks
I had the exact same injury playing in a tournament final last August. It was really windy and I ran up to get a short ball, realized the wind was pushing it back, and took a sudden step backward. Felt a sharp pain right in the back of my right leg. My physio said it was a soleus strain. This coincided with having to take time off with shoulder injury so at least I was forced to rest.
It took 4 weeks for it to feel normal and not so tight when walking and going up and down stairs, and to start very light jogging in the gym. I would say 2 months to be able to run 5k a couple times a week. Strangely enough, if I push it really hard running now, I can still feel a small twinge.
I definitely keep up the stretching as I wouldn't like that to happen again...
6 months off
Tried tennis about 4 mos. after the calf injury--felt doable but I didn't have confidence in the leg despite going through 7 phys. therapy sessions, which included massage and strengthening. Have been doing leg-strengthening exercises at least once a week since then, yoga, can run 3 miles on a treadmill...but it just doesn't feel the same. My hunch is that it healed tight, now the quad feels a little off. Curiously it feels a lot better if I massage it with a foam roller. It's been 6 mos--gotta figure if I can run 3 miles, 200-pound squats, push-offs, agility exercises...the calf has the strength now to do things, even though it doesn't feel like before the injury. Maybe it's just a question of using the foam roller before and after...
Two separate calf muscles & functions -Soleus or Gastrocnemius?
There are two calf muscles, the Gastrocnemius and the Soleus. The Gastroc is attached above and the Soleus below the knee. The Gastrocnemius does less & less as soon as the knee is bent. Soleus works with bent knee. Not sure how much the Soleus does with near straight knee. Interestingly, on the great Free Motion calf machine I find that I have almost as much strength pushing with bent knee Soleus, 280 lbs, as with straight knee Gastrocnemius + Soleus, 300 lbs. (I find this Free Motion machine pleasant to use unlike the other two calf exercise machines in my gym. http://www.freemotionfitness.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_-1_10001_10002_10009_136763)
The question is - Is the Gastrocnemius or Soleus most often injured in tennis?
My opinion is that the Soleus is very important for tennis.
Anyhow, maybe your treadmill is using mostly your Gastroc and the injury is in your Soleus. But squats use Soleus....?
Estimate the degree of bend in your knee when the discomfort occurs. Soleus or Gastroc? Exercising once a week is a little light and certainly if you are missing the injured muscle. Research exercises and stretches that your are doing and the tests you are using including tennis. Especially bent knee stretches & sitting calf raise exercises for the Soleus. (I've posted some replies with references on this issue.)
You know, I have seen that machine at my gym. Perhaps I'll give it a go. I went to seven PT sessions and they had me doing calf-raises, push-offs on a leg press using light weights; quad isolations on a leg press, heavier weights; body-weight squats, and a few other things--but they were definitely targeting the soleus with some of the exercises. I continued doing their exercises 1-2 times per week, and added in a few more things (squats with weights) and this calf machine, slightly different from the one you are using:
I don't think anything more than two times a week on leg-strengthening is going to do much good, as muscles need 48 hours to rest. In any case, I run or bike or do yoga when I am not doing these leg exercises, so that's working the legs too--perhaps not targeted at the calf like the machine, but everything I've read says that you don't want to overwork a muscle when you need to make it stronger.
I've tried taking it easy--didn't do anything for weeks after my injury and after several months of therapy, I went a week without doing any leg exercises at all. I guess what feels best is doing the calf exercises--but not pushing it too much. And yoga.
We'll see. I am approaching my impatience point. It's been 6 months. Although I can run on it--did 3 miles last night--it just doesn't feel right--slight ache in either my soleus or achilles (can't tell).
Which bent knee exercises and stretches are you doing?
Stretches - see #4 & #5 for Soleus.
(The other stretches are also well chosen for tennis especially #1 for short quad.)
Exercises - The Soleus exercise to include is known as the seated calf exercise.
This site has several Soleus exercises and stretches.
I have learned how to adjust the seat on the Free Motion machine to do either straight or bent knee exercises (seated calf exercise). I feel that each calf exercises on this machine both strengthens and somewhat stretches the respective calf muscle because of the range of motion.
Basically, which bent knee exercises & stretches are you now doing?
The Achilles tendon goes up quite high. See Torres reply #42 drawing. I guess that your Dr & PT have determined that the injury was to one of your calf muscles and not the Achilles?
Don't exercise or stretch with pain.
Thanks for the help Chas. The PTs had been doing the calf raises (bent knee) as you pictured, also bent-knee push-offs on a leg press, and bent-knee push offs in a squat position. So they hit the soleus hard. I continued with the pushoffs but I know see I've been lazy about the raises (different machine at the gym).
The doc diagnosed a calf-strain--no MRI but said it was not Achilles as I had full range of motion there. I was running again pain-free in about 2.5 mos, which leads me to believe it could not have been Achilles. Then again it's been 6 mos. so if only a calf strain I should be good to go right now. I wouldn't charcterize my feeling as sharp "pain" when I run--just kind of an achy-weak-sore feeling in my leg that kind of tells me to take it easy, so on a 3-mile run sometimes I'll walk 30 seconds after each mile and don't have the confidence to sprint a full quarter mile, preferring instead 1-minute sprints. Just odd--was expecting my injured leg to feel the same as my other leg now but I can feel something's off and am hesitant to push it by jumping my 200-lb flat-foot frame on the tennis courts.
Thanks for the stretches, will try.
Some issues for you to look into
I don't know this stuff very well and have never had a calf strain. Stretching with any kind of unknown injury is not a good idea. I would continue to research whether your Soleus is too tight. (A crude test is to see how well you can squat while keeping your heels on the floor. Compare to others as I don't know how to evaluate.) You have not been doing a stretch for Soleus, correct? Since your recovery has been so long and incomplete, ask again about what an MRI might show and consider a second opinion or Dr.
I had tight calves that gave me plantar fasciitis and some mild Achilles pain. I have read a lot interesting stuff and reason on my own. This can be a very dangerous process if you are wrong just 1 in 10 times and that misunderstanding could lead to a show stopping injury.
My understanding of some calf functions is not very good but here are some of my views:
1) Runner’s Calf Conditioning. A subject for you to research. For many running and other leg motions the calves may operate mostly as springs using primarily the stretch part of the stretch shortening cycle. I believe that this is the case especially for distance runners. ? I read that Marathon runners have atrophied muscles in their legs - a tradeoff of muscle size for endurance. I would guess that the range of motion for leg muscles is not so great for distance runners as for tennis players. ? I would expect that training for distance running would tend to make the legs tight and springy with some muscles shortened. ?
2) Strength Training of Calves. A single calf handles body weight for running, walking, stair climbing, etc. In my opinion, a calf often does so semi-isometrically acting as a spring without much muscle shortening. When I go up steps I sort of lock my calf and push off with other leg muscles not contracting the calf that much. When doing this a single calf muscle is supporting almost the entire weight of the body (the weight above the knee is supported). For a 200lb man that would be almost 200lb on one leg. To duplicate the forces on your calf while going up steps on a standing calf machine using two legs you would have to push 400lbs total (body weight + weights). Most exercisers use much less weight.
FYI - the fun of it & nails the idea–
Historic, Reg Parker & Arnold Schwarzenegger
It sounds as if you may have plenty of calf strength training and maybe too much. The last thing that I would do with an unknown injury is heavy strength training.
3) Likely Location if Tendon Injury. I read that most tendon injuries occur at the bone-tendon connection or at the muscle-tendon connection. For an upper Achilles tear that would be next to the calf muscle and much higher for the Gastrocnemius than the Soleus (Check anatomy). Diagnosis?
4) Healing Time. Tendon injuries might take 2-6 months to heal.
This book is available cheap.
See comments by Dr John Cianca, page 141, on stressing an injured tendon too soon. ("I was running again pain-free in about 2.5 mos, which leads me to believe it could not have been Achilles.") I hope that his comments on chronic injury do not apply to your injury. Dr Cianca (Houston) also does some new ultrasonic diagnosis of functioning injured tissue and is a marathon medical advisor. I have been looking for more publications of his but can’t find any.
Ischemia. Another separate issue is ischemia or pain caused by lack of blood flow. When sleeping with a torn rotator cuff I would get ischemia pain, an ache. Running would seem to help blood circulation. Research ischemia. I read that cramps are caused by 1) Electrolyte imbalances/lack and 2) lack of blood flow. Is your pain like a cramp? Circulation problem?
My theory is either:
1. It was misdiagnosed.
2. Correctly diagnosed but reinjured or re-stressed too soon.
3. Correctly diagnosed and healed, but tightly.
My guess is 2 or 3. The PTs were the ones who had me running initially, incidentally.
Perhaps when I got off PT and did my own thing, though, something went awry (different machines in the gym).
Injuries are uncertain and very uncertain if ongoing.............
The tennis reference book on tennis injuries and conditioning
From Breakpoint to Advantage
describes calf strains but, strangely, for an illustration shows a tendon tear of the Achilles just below the Gastrocnemius - half way up the calf, pg 125. They call it "Tennis Leg" and say that it is a very common injury in 35-50 year old players. (This is the second illustration error that I have found in this reference. Otherwise, I like the reference for its broad coverage and descriptions. Another low cost, high-value reference despite the illustration issues.)
If the illustration actually represents some of these injuries I can see why healing might be difficult. The tear is shown through the medial half of the Achilles. For an injury like that an MRI would seem important and a slow-paced, gradual recovery.
Well I've read that 25 percent of Achilles tears are misdiagnosed as calf strains when based on physical examination alone. That could be the case here, since Achilles tears take a longer time to recover.
I do find it odd that I was able to run, walk and do calf-strengthening exercises 1.5 months after the injury, without pain, if it were an Achilles tear. I find it odd that the doctor said one month til tennis, and the PTs, after they released me in September, putting me through agility drills and running, said to just give it two more weeks until I could hit the courts.
I can run, do weights, etc all without pain. But it's just an odd feeling: the injured leg does not feel the same as the left leg. It feels kind of weak sometimes, or sometimes tight. On a calf stretch, it won't stretch out like the non-injured leg--feels like maybe it will stretch 90 percent of the way. I can feel there's something it's not doing, something off.
Maybe an Achilles tear, maybe just not a full recovery, maybe some kind of chronic tendon inflammation. Wish I knew! My health insurance deductible is $3k and I still owe the PTs money, so an MRI is probably out of the question.
Bottom line is that your diagnosis seems uncertain.
Why don't you research another Dr. I hate the process too especially if there is no referral from a friend with a similar injury. I believe that Drs especially in HMOs are less likely to prescribe expensive tests. Find a way to get the MRI. When you see another Dr be your own advocate and describe how the injury has not healed properly and that an MRI is now justified.
I don't know Dr Cianca but his very brief comments about tendon injury are now the most important part of my approach for avoiding chronic injuries. I don't like to indorse anyone that I have not personally dealt with but look into his website in Houston. I believe that he deals with your kind of injury. I have no knowledge but maybe the sonic imagery would show the injury and be much more reasonable than the MRI. ? He may be able to give you a referral to a local Dr that uses the sonic diagnostic technique.
Can you feel any possible scar tissue or local pain? Was your knee bent when it first happened? Can you eliminate "tennis leg"?
I have found lots of information searching the term Tennis Leg.
When you find out what is going on please remember to reply to update this thread.
Can't feel any pain...just tightness\soreness. Maybe a feeling of slight weakness when running, like the injured leg is 90 perc of the uninjured leg.
How do you feel for scar tissue?
Will try a local doc maybe. Really want to get back playing--think I've gained 12 pounds in 6 mos. being unable to play. Amazing how high some side-to-side bursts if only for 5-20 seconds. each can keep off weight. Did this on a treadmill and heart rate hit 150. Have to run a 10minute mile roughly for that. Probably the interval nature of rallying in tennis--high-intensity plus low-intensity--really shed the fat.
Possible circulation issues? Other?
You need to see another Dr.
Ran two miles on the sucker tonight, the last quarter at sprint pace, and did an hour of yoga after that. While running the injured leg felt sore but no pain. Don't think this is Achilles as the soreness was on the side, so the best candidate for that would be the soleus that didn't heal 100 percent for whatever reason. I recall after PT they tested it and said it was 95 percent there, and that's how it remains. We'll see, maybe an appt. with a sports doc if my med. insurance isn't going to rob me blind...
23 days post calf tear and I played my first 'proper' mens doubles yesterday involving a couple of guys from my club's men's doubles finals. Friendly rather than a competitve match.
Couldn't believe how unfit I felt having spent just over 3 weeks sitting at home eating cookies and potato chips and not doing any exercise.
Fortunately the game didn't involve much running because everyone was just serving big and trying to annihilate the ball, so points were ultra short.
Calf felt a bit tight today, but apart from that I don't think there were any major ill effects, though I was careful to protect the leg and not do any explosive movements or sprints. It still hasn't fully healed yet, but I think its slowly getting there.
That's good to hear. Stick with hitting sessions and doubles for now. Sounds like you need another 2 or 3 weeks until singles MAY be an option.
Might as well add another misery to this great thread. Happened to me yesterday when attempting to chase down a wide ball. I had the same injury on the other calf 2-3 years ago and was foolish enough to return to tennis after 2-3 weeks later and it happened again 3 weeks later; and again (another 2-3 weeks of wishful thinking/rest). During the last injury, after the 3rd incident, I went to see the doctor after noticing discoloration going down to my ankle. He did not prescribed anything that I can recall but asked that I go to have my leg scanned for any potential blood clot in case it reaches my heart or brain. Just more money spent on something that got me all worked up for nothing.
This time, I was quick to put ice on the calf, kept it elevated and continued to do the same when I got home. Took motrin on a full stomach and woke me up the next morning with a sharp pain in the stomach area. Have to slow down on the ibuprofen use so it will create a upset stomach issue.
I was able to limp back to my car but the entire calf is swollen and painful to touch. Unable to walk without putting my weight on the other leg. Kept the calf compressed firm but lightly last night and will continue to do so until the pain eases up. Will also apply cold compress every 4 hours. Using a great product sold on TW called ICE DOWN.
This and another thread on this forum is VERY helpful and wanted to thank everyone for their input and sharing advice.
Will keep everyone apprised down the road here but waiting for 4-6 weeks before I can play tennis again is going to make me miserable. BTW, I am in my early 50s and considered a weekend warrior when it comes to tennis (2-3 times a week only). I am hoping to be able to walk "normally" a week from today as I have a family vacation planned for DisneyWorld. Oh well ....
Appreciate anyone's input.
Put simply, calf strains suck. I'd never had one in my life, then did something I really regret. There's a woman in town who is a foot/ankle chiropractor. I sprained my left ankle repeatedly when I was in high school and I've long had less mobility in it than my right. She and I had been referring clients to each other for a year or so, so I finally figured I'd pay her a visit and see if she could help my ankle out. she adjusted my feet and ankles and everything felt fine. Second time out playing tennis, boom, left calf strain. Didn't even fully appreciate what it was since I'd never had one. Came back WAY too soon and re-strained it. Came back moderately too soon from that one and strained the OTHER calf. To say I have found the experience frustrating is an understatement. My legs were always the strength of my game, even at 50 I can chase down just about anything and good luck drop shotting me.
So I've finally disciplined myself to say 'ok, I'm taking 4-6 weeks off and working back up slowly.' I'm still paranoid as hell about re-tweaking these darn things. Here are a few observations I've had so far.
Just because it feels healed doesn't mean it is. One therapist told me these injuries, even minor ones, take a minimum of 4 weeks to fully knit back together. Take the time to rehab this properly.
my tears were in the soleus. The soleus is a very difficult muscle to stretch and strengthen. I've found the standard soleus exercise of seated heel lifts with weight to be virtually useless. I think the body needs dynamic loading and bursts of stabilization and propulsion demand to genuinely work that muscle and condition it for tennis. So my rehab plan looks something like this:
- rest and ice for the first 72 hours, work the muscle as little as possible, and no stretching. do nothing to aggravate the torn tissue.
- after 72 hours, begin alternating heat and cold and begin walking as much as possible to tolerance. If it hurts, stop. Start walking on level ground.
- once walking on level ground starts feeling normal, start walking in more hilly areas, but starting with gentle slopes.
- as that feels better, start tackling increasingly steep slopes on smooth pavement.
- as that feels better, I'm going to get back to what I feel is probably one of the premier ways to strengthen the calves, especially the soleus: hike. This is the stage I'm now at the beginning of. Have done some light hikes, doing a much tougher one this weekend.
- after hiking proves ok, start doing light running. I actually started doing a little of this over the weekend in the park. I ran for about 10 minutes barefoot in the grass. I'm a BIG fan of running barefoot and allowing the foot/ankle complex to do its own stabilization work. I'll soon start transitioning to road work wearing as little shoe as possible, either my New Balance Minimus or my Vibram FiveFingers.
Once in plane running and hiking feel good, then it's time for plyometric work and increasing ballistic impact. I actually started a little of this in a VERY light way. Standing in the stairwell at work one step up from a landing and then jumping down to the landing, hitting on the balls of the feet and allowing the legs to coil and absorb the impact. That's about a 6-8" jump, very slight. I'm going to do that every other day for a week or so, let the calves adapt, then move up a step, do that for a few sesions, then move up one more step. Once those are ok, then I'll start jumping UP onto a plyo box or coffee table. Different demand going up than down.
Skipping forwards and backwards is also a great calf exercise, expecially backwards.
once all these are good, time to go to the court and run the lines and basically play air tennis, go through the motions, simulate playing the game. Can do this in a living room but I want to do it on the court to more closely replicate the actual movements and distances I'd move. Once that goes well, back to light hitting.
after each strength session and every night before I go to bed, I roll my calves. I'm not a fan of most foam rollers, they're too soft. I found this one and LOVE it:
I also have their other products and use them a bit, but I find myself using the roller more.
Good luck to all dealing with this stuff, it's extremely frustrating. Hopefully we can all learn from each others' experiences and get back on the court and STAY there.
That's outstanding news. I'm at my 6th week. I haven't played, but have golfed a couple of times. Getting in a little walking without pain. The problem with this injury is that there wasn't any symptoms of pain before the injury - it's so unpredictable and can reoccur at any time, even with stretching, hydration, strengthening, etc.
I'm holding off any doubles until January.
Welcome to the gastroc/soleus calf muscle strain support group. Sorry to hear - I'm 48, play 2-3 times a week as well and thought I was in pretty good physical condition (lots of running, playing tennis) -
Take your time in your comeback. I used crutches for 3-4 days with absolutely no weight bearing, with just some range of motion exercises of the ankle, knee.
"I feel your pain" as Bubba used to say.
Good luck w/ your recovery.
Thanks again for the recommendations and advice. You don't know how helpful the information is. I didn't visit the MD or PT for this. Self diagnosed and treated (I'm an RN, I know it isn't a DVT) - next time this happens, I'm going full out and will see them all.
Thanks Morgan for the well wishes!!!
Picked up a set of crutches today because I KNOW it'll happen again (calf strain). Told someone today that I'd almost rather have a fractured leg than this injury. At least a fracture heals and doesn't re-injure unless you have trauma again.
This injury can easily happen over and over - even with proper stretching, strengthening (from what I understand).
Today ran a couple of miles. Felt tightness. Has been nearly 7 weeks since injury. Will start hitting again in January.
One week update: My calf still hurts when walking and very tender to the touch. Over the last day or so, I noticed the areas around my ankle black and blue and swollen. I am guessing the nice color came from the burst blood vessels from the muscle tear. Still have a leg sleeve to keep it compressed.
Tomorrow, family and I will be at DisneyWorld for 7 days doing lots of walking. I am not looking forward to that but I can't disappoint my family. More to come.
Best regards to all.
Good luck with your trip - not sure if you're from FLA, but the weather is getting warmer starting tomorrow....bring your sunblock
s5blitzer....are you flying to Florida or able to just drive? If you're flying, make sure you're up and moving around every hour, don't let the blood pool on you.
and morgan, I'm right there with ya. Would MUCH rather have fractured the bone than have repeated calf strains for the exact reason you describe. Fortunately mine haven't been so severe I needed crutches. I'm probably 4 weeks out from the last one. Started doing light running barefoot in the neighborhood park weekend before last, just like 10 minutes worth, did it again this last weekend. Started doing light plyo a week ago, like standing on a step one stair up from the landing and then jumping down onto the landing, allowing my legs to coil and absorb the impact. Yeah, I know, a 6-8" jump, woohoo. But that's the whole point, I wanted to start really light so if there was a problem it would get twingy instead of just tear. That was fine, so started doing one legged jumps, which was fine. A few days later did two legged jumps from the second step up, then the third step up.
Then I took a 6" block and put it on the floor (it's 6" high, probably about 6" wide as well) and stood to the side and did a one legged jump to the other side, landed on one foot, balanced, then jumped from that foot back over to the other side of the block, rinse and repeat. Did about 20 of those and was fine.
I think it's REALLY important not just to present the calves with sustained demand but to ask them to tolerate ballistic impact, more sudden bursts of loading demand, which is what tennis requires.
I've found that using the 'Grid' roller I linked above before and after these sessions is really helping. Then once a week I'm getting a leg-only sports massage and the guy is just wailing on my calves. The day after they feel almost re-torn, really twingy, but then the second day after they feel great. I think it's breaking up scar tissue and adhesions and re-orienting the muscle fibers. I think that's important to restoring structural integrity.
I also think it's really important to employ the work/rest principle. I'm working them hard one day, going very easy the next, going moderately hard the day after, then going hard again. And I'm doing the massages once a week, always the day after or the evening of a hard work day.
if the weather was warmer I'd look at getting out for light hitting this holiday weekend, but the temps are going to be in the 40s here and even if I didn't have this issue, I just wouldn't be interested in hitting in that. I'm a hot weather guy. 105? No problem. 45? Forget it, especially with a rehabbed muscle tear.
and oh yeah, EVERY time I'm working them hard I'm wearing the Zensah compression sleeves. And when I get back to the court, I'm wearing them every time out until I've been playing for about 3 months without issue.
Good to hear that you're progressing.
Both times that I injured myself was in cooler temps - I'm not sure if that had anything to do with it. I do know that I didn't hydrate as well as I usually do in warmer temps/humidity where I usually take down 8-12 oz of Gatorade during breaks while playing.
Its good that you're documenting what you're doing - maybe someone will find this thread in the months/years to come and benefit from what you're doing.
I've been following this thread for a while. There is a recurring theme here. Some of you are trying to come back WAY too soon. Stay off your leg! If you come back too soon you are risking the chance of further damage, a prolonged recovery period, and it is possible that this may contribute to recurrence of this type of injury.
REST. Accept the fact that you will be out minimum 1 month. Every strain is different and every person has a different recovery period, but if you are on crutches for 2 days, you are probably out for 2 months. If you are on crutches for more than that you are out for 3 months. When you finally do come back it will take 1-2 months before the leg strength is fully back to normal and for you to have confidence in your leg. That is the reality.
I should point out that these timelines I mention above are actually optimistic. I know people who say it has taken 6 months to a year for them to finally feel like their calf is back to "normal". Having said that, I'm talking about playing vigorous sports, not country club seniors doubles.
Sorry to be messenger of bad news but its for your own good.
spin doctor...absolutely correct, good advice. That was without question the issue with me. I didn't fully appreciate just how long these tears take to completely knit back with structural integrity.
with mine, there were no crutches involved, just some moderate limping for one day, mild limping the next day, then feeling barely anything after that. After 5-7 days it felt "almost" normal. So I thought waiting an additional week after that was sufficient. Not even close. Even the mild tears are a 4-6 week injury, just the way it is.
Senior country club doubles player here - although the day I was injured, I played a set of singles. I guess I'll heed spindoctor's advice and hold off a little longer with playing - I have started running (jogging) a couple of miles at a very slow pace. I think today I'm at 8 weeks out.
Any Imaging of "Calf Strains" or Calf Injuries?
Has anyone gotten an MRI or other imaging technique for a calf injury?
It looks as if the extent of a "calf strain" may vary quite a bit from a Grade 1 to Grade 2 injury. I'm still not clear as to exactly where most of these injuries are located - top of the Achilles, bottom Gastrocnemius, between, somewhere in the Soleus, etc.? Uncertain? Do the Drs identify which of the two calf muscles is injured?
An interesting point to be researched was referred to in Fundamentals of Biomechanics, D. Knudson, page 82. The Gastrocnemius of a cat's calf has many more fast-twitch muscle fibers than the Soleus. According to the reference, this muscle fiber type distribution probably carries over to humans. This might imply that the Gastrocnemius is more heavily stressed under some circumstances.
On a calf exercise machine, with slow movement, my straight knee(Gastrocnemius + Soleus?) strength and bent knee(Soleus) strength for 10 reps maximum weight seems to be comparable.
Just to clarify my earlier post:
1. I am not a medical doctor, despite my name.
2. Most of my experience is with people playing vigorous sports i.e. tennis, basketball etc. Playing doubles tennis is a different animal and its possible you may be back to playing in a shorter time period than what I have seen.
3. Yes, any decent docter, even a physio, will be able to diagnose the difference between a gastroc and soleus injury. Most people I know have suffered the gastroc pull. If you don't know which injury you have, go see a doctor (NOT a physio) to make sure.
4. When I say "rest" I don't mean don't do anything. Talk to your physio and find out what exercises and stretching you can do. You can still bike, swim etc. after a couple of weeks just not anything that "tests" the injury like running and especially no sports that require explosive movement off the leg, tennis being one.
5. Make sure you strengthen the muscle and your entire leg before you try to come back to tennis. If your leg is weak from inactivity it will make it harder for you to come back and may put even more stress on the injury site if your biomechanics are off. Also make sure you have worked on flexibility.
6. To keep yourself sane, focus on the things you CAN do, not the things you can't. Work on your core, your cardio (spin bike, swimming, rowing machines, ellipticals etc.), work on your stability muscles (weakness in certain areas may have contributed to the strain) and flexibility (again, may be another contributing factor). You should be able to practice serving after a few weeks.
update on my progression:
had my first hitting session in roughly 8 weeks last night. Felt SO good to be back on the court. I told the guy I was hitting with that I was not going to play any sets, just do light hitting for an hour and call it a day. I wasn't going to run hard after any balls, just wanted to get out and re-introduce my body to basic tennis motions. Calves felt fine going in, but as all of you who have had this happen, that doesn't mean a whole lot. My plan was/is to do 2-3 VERY light hitting sessions with rest days and lots of myofascial work in between. Then if all goes well, the next 2-3 sessions exert myself a little bit more, then the next 2-3 a little bit more. Given that I play no more than 3 times a week (and probably less this time of year given weather issues), that takes me out about 3-4 more weeks. At that point, hopefully I'm ready to go full out.
in the meantime I'm continuing to do all the stretching and strengthening work I've been doing so far.
one thing I started doing about 2 weeks ago is trying to spend 5-10 minutes running in the grass barefoot. We have a local park just a block away and I go over there and just do light jogging barefoot. I'm a big fan of building strength literally from the ground up. Tennis shoes do a good job of protecting and isolating the foot, which weakens it. I want the linkage from my arches to my ankles to my calves to my knees to my upper leg muscles to my hips to be as strong and integrated as possible.
And I continue to do work to ensure these load joints are all in as functional a position as possible. Last night went great. Wore Zensah compression sleeves on both calves and even though the temp was in the high 50s, kept warm up pants on the entire time. Did foam rolling courtside both before and after the hitting session.
I'm nowhere close to saying "I'm back", but this was a great first step to that end. Felt SO good to be back hitting shots.
Good to hear that you're progressing. I'm nearly 8 weeks out and will hold off. I've been doing some very light running (2 miles) and stretching - and some golfing. I feel a lot of tightness in the calves, so I'll hold off for another month.
The fact that there's no warning signs is the tricky thing about this injury-
Visited the courts today to talk to my playing partners....they said they'd drop shot me to death when I get back ----just kidding me of course. But rushing/sprinting to short balls or very wide balls is probably where the injury happened. I really will have a hard time toning down that part of the game.
Are you rolling your calves? I tried doing so with a traditional foam roller and found it virtually worthles. Then I got "The Grid" I linked above, and wow, what a difference. It's not cheap, but man, I find it to be indispensable. I strongly recommend it to all the folks in here with calf issues. I also really like their other product that has the smaller roller that sits on top of the block. It's designed just for the calves. If I want to do a quick session to loosen them up, I just do the grid. If I want to go more in depth, then I start with the grid and then I progress to that and it works really well.
Traditional stretching is NOT enough. I highly recommend these products. they've helped me for sure.
Played a couple of sets of singles today, 6 weeks after originally tearing the calf.
Felt fine - didn't think about it once the entire game.
My cardiovascular fitness was shocking though and I felt pretty sluggish moving around. It's amazing how much you lose sitting at home for 6 weeks eating potato chips......
Will probably need a few weeks to get some sharpness back.
^^^ Good to hear. Go test some strings for us.
Had my second hitting session yesterday, went great. Calves felt fine. One issue with this stuff is you now become overly aware of every little twinge whereas before it was no big deal. Pushed it a bit more than the first session on Thursday, but still didn't go all out. Calves were lightly sore, but in what felt like a good way. Did extensive rolling on them last night and this morning they feel great. Going to play again Thursday evening, weather permitting.
So true. I'm at that stage now. I can play, but I still feel tightness and a bit of soreness at the point of injury. It's not really limiting my tennis as much as it is as exercising outside of tennis.
Went running for the first time in six weeks and felt it for a week after. I really miss being able to run for exercise. I've been substituting using elliptical machine, but it's so boring.
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