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Calf muscle problems- cardio ideas?


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Ugh, I had such a great workout yesterday (3 mile walk, 30 min elliptical, 20 min upper body free weights), but apparently my finnicky calf muscle didn't like it as much as I did. I injured the right one months ago and it's just now healing. This time, it's the left- same injury. Any ideas for cardio that will burn some calories so I can maintain my current cal level while not exacerbating the calf injury?

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What about biking?

I tried that last time- really any stepping motion (e.g., up stairs) bothers it.

the rowing machine???  will the push off give you problems?

What about swimming, using primarily your upper body? Try the crawl, too, but don't flex your feet too aggressively.

I'm going to go to the gym today and play around and let you know what I can do, since I can manage walking today. I can't imagine I'm the only one who's ever had this problem.

I was thinking about swimming (I used to swim competitively), but I only have bikinis, and no goggles. I would consider going in a bikini, but not without goggles.

you can usually purchase goggles at the gym, or swing by a walmart on your way to the gym. Someone already took my suggestion for swimming, so how about a low impact aerobics? Unless you are super competitive, you can still get a good workout going 50%

Just curious..how did you hurt your calf?  What did you do?  Is it a pulled muscle?  Hyperextended?  Calf muscle injuries are NOT that common..which is why i'm asking. Thanks Rob

I don't know, Rob- it feels like a knot, but it gives me sharp pains if I work it too hard. I do stretch before and after working out. It always seems to happen to me when I up the ante on my cardio. This time, I just went on a longer walk than usual and then worked much harder on the elliptical the same day. I used to have a theory that my calves develop muscle abnormally fast and that injures them, but who knows.

Emily..I'm not a proponent of stretching cold muscles..so try NOT to stretch BEFORE your workouts.  Instead, if you're walking, walk slowly taking shorter steps.  Only after you are warmed up, up the pace and the step.  If you're doing the elliptical..do the same thing..start SLOWLY then up the pace as you warm up.  I think you may be aggravating a cold muscle.  If you want to do something to your muscle BEFORE you exercise..massage it and warm it up w/ heat...get the blood flowing. 

I don't think you develop muscle abnormally fast..which injures them.  I just don't buy that..sorry. Wink  Anyway, warmup slowly and see how that works.  Rob

#10  
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Did you ever find out which cardio works the best with a calf injury?  I have recently bumped up my running from 7 to 12 miles per week and am beginning to get calf pain, first in one leg and then the other.  Need to back off running until they heal but still want to maintain cardio conditioning for the next 2 weeks.  No swimming pool access.  Any ideas?  Thanks

It sounds like a lower-grade muscle tear. Unfortunately it is something that can be easily re-injured, even with mild activity or too-aggressive stretching.

I would recommend total rest for a few days. Sometimes it can help take pressure off the calf by wearing shoes with a low heel during this time and avoiding barefoot walking, especially in the AM when everything is tight.

You can do some stretching of the Achilles, but it should be very gentle. Upon resuming activity, keep it short, and low-intensity. You would also want to include some strengthening exercises for the calf muscle.

I have had this injury a number of times in the past. Last one I recognized immediately and so I was only off a couple of days, but recovery has sometimes taken 2-4 weeks.

#12  
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Great...thanks so much for the insight and suggestions.  Any idea why you might be sensitive to this particular injury?  Seems like some people are...I think I might be too. 

Original Post by azdak:

I would recommend total rest for a few days. Sometimes it can help take pressure off the calf by wearing shoes with a low heel during this time and avoiding barefoot walking, especially in the AM when everything is tight.

 Isn't that a contradiction? Most shoes have a built up heel and you recommend a shoe with a low heel. Makes sense. But then say, avoid barefoot walking? Which would be similar to walking in a shoe with a low heel.

Recommendations from Sports Medicine, Prevention, Evaluation, Management and Rehabilitation, by Roy and Irwin are for "a heel lift of 1/4" to 1/2""--I was trying to put that in layman's terms. And there is a difference between that and barefoot walking.

Given that this is a general forum, it's often a fine line between trying to give effective and constructive advice, while at the same time avoiding the unethical practice of giving medical advice.

I try to make sure I am giving well-documented, consensus information that might offer some education and assistance while being well within the "do no harm" demarcation--in other words, recommendations that would be beneficial regardless of the situation. In this case, I felt comfortable going a little farther since I have had a lot of experience, personal and otherwise, dealing with this injury and felt it was really important to call attention to the risk of resuming activity too quickly.

Original Post by karenksn:

Great...thanks so much for the insight and suggestions.  Any idea why you might be sensitive to this particular injury?  Seems like some people are...I think I might be too. 

Don't know for sure, but overall I am not very flexible and while I don't have a really high arched foot, I tend towards hypermobility and am a mid to forefoot striker when I run. So, for me at least, there is a predisposition to tight calf muscles and a tight achilles which would seem to be contributing factors. The injury almost always has occurred during a time when I was resuming my exercise routine after a long layoff and was just starting to ramp up intensity and duration after an initial "introductory" period of 2-4 weeks.

I'm prone to cramping in my calves when I work a LOT harder than I'm used to.  When you get a cramp, you can also get a tear, due to the increased tension in the muscles (from the cramp).  I've gotten to where I can feel a cramp coming on, and ease off before that happens.  As I'm using riding a bicycle at the time, I'll coast and do trigger point massage on the misbehaving calf, which will hold the cramp at bay for awhile.  I'll usually have to repeat this several times during the ride.

As my body adapts to the workload, the risk of cramping becomes greatly reduced (provided adequate hydration and fueling for the workout).

If you have a tear, you need to let it heal COMPLETELY.  It's too easy to re-injure while healing.  If it's only a cramp, trigger point massage can help to resolve it.  There's a trigger point on the upper medial calf and another one deep in the upper posterior calf, just to the outside of the hollow of the knee, in the biggest part of the calf.  They hurt like hell when you find them, but just slowly rubbing across them a dozen times, a couple of times per day, will loosen them up.

I wouldn't apply massage to a tear until it has healed, however.

Cf., The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, by Claire Davies.

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