Calf muscle pop
February 2, 2008 1:34 PM   Subscribe

Pop goes the calf muscle!

So I did this... (Grade 1 level) 2 days ago. Felt the pop, and OH the pain.

How can I gradually get function back? And what caused it to happen in the first place? All I did was step off walking from a standstill- no dramatic movement, sports-related activity or anything.

I can only get around by sliding my foot sideways to avoid the pain that comes from the foot-flexing motion.
posted by I_Love_Bananas to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
I think the "Treatment" section in the link you provided spells things out nicely.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:39 PM on February 2, 2008

Has anyone else had this happen? I can't stay off it 100% for the next 2 weeks. If you have gone through this, how did you compensate?
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 1:48 PM on February 2, 2008

See a doctor. Get some crutches. Rest it.
posted by gramcracker at 2:33 PM on February 2, 2008

I did the same thing last year playing volleyball. Started a run-in toward the net to spike, and as I pushed off with my right leg, it felt like I had been hit in the calf by a thrown golfball. Hurt like heck and there I was down on the floor. It was a very cold night, and I was running late and hadn't fully warmed up; happened about 15 minutes into the match.

Yeah, the treatment section in the link has it. Mine was also grade 1. Took about 3 weeks to fully recover and be able to play again. Keep it elevated, lots of ice, your NSAID of choice to keep the swelling down, and eventually some stretching when you feel able to. You'll be hobbling on it for a while.
posted by johnvaljohn at 2:44 PM on February 2, 2008

I recently pulled my calf muscle, though painful it was less intense than what you're describing. I also couldn't entirely stay off it, but I didn't do any running or jumping or anything using it intensely and it has been able to recover.
posted by bindasj at 7:18 PM on February 2, 2008

Since you seem to be interested in individual experiences, I'll share mine.

After a couple of weeks of gradual progression back into running, I was left with the same kind of pain that you describe focused on my inner calf. I limped around for about a week after that. I have not run since, but have had at least three "pops" while making every-day abrupt directional changes. It's been about 2.5 weeks since the incident and, although there is no notable pain, I can still feel that something is a bit off in my calf when I put my full weight on it. I expect that full recovery will take almost a month in my case.

IANAD, but I suspect that the easier you are on your calf, the faster it will heal.
posted by hooves at 9:14 PM on February 2, 2008

From Mark Rippetoe:

Here is the tried-and-true injury rehab method for muscle-belly injuries we got from Bill Starr and that has worked for years better than any other method I've ever used. It also works well on orthopedic injuries in general, and should be tried before anything more elaborate is used. Wait 3-4 days until the pain starts to "blur",which indicates that the immediate process of healing has stopped the bleeding and has started to repair the tissue. Then use an exercise that directly works the injury, i.e. that makes it hurt, in this case the squat. Use the empty bar and do 3 sets of 25 with perfect form, allowing yourself NO favoring the injured side. If it's ready to rehab you will know by the pain: if the pain increases during the set, it's not ready, if it stays the same or feels a little better toward the end of the set, it is ready to work.

The NEXT DAY do it again, and add a small amount of weight, like 45 x 25 x 2 , 55 x 25. Next day, 45 x 25, 55 x 25, 65 x 25. Continue adding weight every day, increasing as much as you can tolerate each workout. It will hurt, and it's supposed to hurt, but you should be able to tell the difference between rehab pain and re-injury. If you can't, you will figure it out soon enough. This method works by flushing blood through the injury while forcing the tissue to reorganize in its normal pattern of contractile architecture.

After 10 days of 25s, go up in weight and down in reps to 15s, then to 10s, and finally to fives. During this time do NO OTHER HEAVY WORK, so that your resources can focus on the injury. You should be fixed in about 2 weeks, squatting more than you hurt yourself with.

This method has the advantage of preventing scar formation in the muscle belly, since the muscle is forced to heal in the context of work and normal contraction, using the movement pattern it normally uses. The important points are 1.) perfect form with 2.) light weights that can be handled for high reps, 3.) every day for two weeks, and 4.) no other heavy work that will interfere with the system-wide processes of healing the tear.

It is also very important through the whole process of healing the injury that ice be used, during the initial phase after the injury and after the workouts. Use it 20 on/20 off, many times a day at first and then tapering off to morning, after the workout, and before bed. Ice is your best friend in a muscle belly injury, holding down inflammation and fluid accumulation ("swelling") while at the same time increasing beneficial blood flow through the injury. But DO NOT USE ICE MORE THAN 20 MINUTES AT A TIME. More than that can cause more damage than it repairs.
posted by tiburon at 9:31 AM on February 4, 2008 [4 favorites]

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