How do I stop straining my calves?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by danno123, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. danno123

    danno123 Rookie

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    A couple of weeks ago, I had a calf strain in my left calf. It was one of those incidents where it felt like something hit my calf and I felt it kind of "pop," so I knew it was a bad one. I took time off and started doing body weight calf raises when the pain was gone and some stretching and massaging. This morning I managed to strain my other calf. No pop or anything this time, just pain, so it's a fairly mild strain. What's ******* me off is I've been exercising and stretching my calves. How do I get rid of this problem?

    I'm wondering whether my problem is related to some pain I've been having while stretching. My health club has a hamstring stretching machine - a Technogym Posterior Stretch Machine. It has a bar that you can position to push your toes towards you when you stretch the hamstring. (If you want a picture it's the second machine here: http://inshape.net/ammenities/new-flexibility-area/)
    When I put my toes towards my body and stretch my hamstrings I get a type of pain in my calves that's very intense and hard to describe. (Maybe nerve pain?) If I put the bar so it doesn't touch my feet, I can stretch my hamstrings with no pain. Anyone have any ideas?
     
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  2. colowhisper

    colowhisper Semi-Pro

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    Static stretching is old school! Foam rolling is much better. Unlike stretching, you can roll anytime before, during and after exercise. You can active stretch before, but only static stretch after exercise if you must. It pains me to see guys holding long stretches before a match, especially calves.
     
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  3. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Stop stressing your injuries immediately and see a well qualified Dr for a diagnosis and treatment.

    What is the timeline for your injuries? How long did you avoid stress from tennis, stretching or exercises, other stresses after various new injuries?

    What have your researched on healing times? Tendon, muscle, ligament,...etc.

    Do you take statins? Have your researched the side effects of all drugs that you are taking?

    Have you seen a Dr for a diagnosis and treatment?

    There are two calf muscles, the Gastrocnemius and the Soleus (underneath the outer and more visible Gastrocnemius). There is a linked chain for the Gastrocnemius ---- upper leg bone - Gastrocnemius muscle - heel bone - bottom of the foot. For the Soleus ---- lower leg bone - Soleus - heel bone - bottom of the foot. Both the Gastrocnemius and Soleus connect together into the Achilles Tendon and then to the heel. Google pictures for the terms.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=ima...udFurV2QWPhoCoCA&ved=0CCgQsAQ&biw=999&bih=632

    Gym Machine. There is a bar on the bottom of your foot? The calf muscles, Soleus & Gastrocnemius, connect to the heel which plantar flexes the foot - bends it down. If you put a bar across the bottom of the foot it can't bend down and will stretch the calf muscles. If the machine then causes force on the top tendon connection ("origin", on the femur) of the Gastrocnemius muscle it might stress that muscle. I don't know about the Soleus muscle, the other calf muscle which is connected (originates) on the lower leg bone. Not using the bar removes the pain. That machine could very well be your problem and have caused your injury or stressed and contributes to a tennis injury.

    What does the timeline show? Did the first pain start on the machine?

    Do an internet search with the machine name and "calf injury" to see if anyone else has had a similar issue.

    Did you continue using the machine after the injury? Stretches and exercise intended for healthy people can do additional harm to injured people. Rehab is the transition between injured and healthy.

    Google- common tennis injuries and find the half dozen comprehensive references on the subject. Read about the common calf injuries. Look up 'tennis leg' usually a Gastrocnemius tear, I believe.

    There are many long threads here on calf injuries.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
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  4. Ojibway

    Ojibway New User

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    Did you see a Physio? If not, do so that will help you. They could point specific weakness and focused exercises that you can use for recovery as well as for on-going strength training.

    After I had calf strain, I did not play for 5 weeks. Then I started doing some strength training and stretching of calves. I also included workouts for overall lower body. General idea is lack of strength in one muscle puts more pressure on another, so an overall strength training is very important. Simple Lunges, calf raises and squats are great...no need of additional weights.

    What I have come to learn is that as you age, you need more warm up, more off court workout and good stretching after every session to avoid injury.
     
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  5. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
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  6. Ojibway

    Ojibway New User

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    You got the link. I was referring to PT. Mostly your doctor would refer you to PT. But some accept people without referal also.
     
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  7. danno123

    danno123 Rookie

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    Thanks for the advice. What is frustrating is that I've been exercising and stretching my calves and this morning I arrived at the court 15 minutes early and warmed up, stretched and rolled my calves with a tennis ball before playing. We had played for a little over an hour when I strained my calf, so I don't think it was due to not being warmed up.
     
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  8. Kobble

    Kobble Hall of Fame

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    Probably weak calves. If you haven't done sprinting and things that impact them, they will be unprepared. I popped both of mine 2-3 times. Getting better now. Jumping rope helped me, but never pushing too hard seems to be the key. Add more jumps/turns over time, but never push too hard.
     
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  9. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Semi-Pro

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    It's call the Posterior stretch machine for a reason. In that position that you described you're fully stretching the posterior aspect of your lower extremities. That intense and hard to describe feeling is the fascial pull of your lower leg as you've pulled everything taut. No bar on feet slackens the system. If your body is telling you pain, that's a good signal that you're going too far with it.
     
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  10. RogueFLIP

    RogueFLIP Semi-Pro

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    What you likely did was initially when you injured the left calf, you started to compensate and put slightly more pressure with your gait and standing on the right leg. Your body sub-consciously created an imbalance in the system in order to lessen the pain on the injured side.

    This imbalance set the stage for the right to tighten slowly but surely. So even after your left calf felt better, your right calf was in a slow state of "panic" so to speak.

    Compounded by the guarding you caused in your right leg by using the stretch machine too forcibly, just a matter of time before the right one went.

    With your stretching and massage, just go gentle, never force anything. It's not "no pain, no gain" with the stretching and massage.

    Good luck.
     
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  11. Brian72

    Brian72 Rookie

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    I trained for a marathon last year. During the training I had several episodes during my training where the calve muscle would tighten and remain sore for almost a week. It was killing my training. I talked to a friend at a nutrition store and started taking Concentrace minerals several times a day. As soon as I started taking the minerals, I stopped having problems. Haven't had a calve issue since.

    By the way, the first time I thought I strained my calve muscle was playing tennis in 2010.

    Hope this helps.
     
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