Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sidelined by a calf (Gastrocnemius) tear

Well I got injured and wanted to give an update on my blog.  Looking back, I initially felt a pain in my calf after Baylor Pass 12 mile trail run after my fall.  I had a close encounter with a snake and scraped my elbow.  After the race, I noticed very mild calf pain that persisted for 2 days.  I was able to run by Wednesday (6 miles) and Friday (6 miles) so I thought nothing of it.  On Sunday AM 6 weeks ago tomorrow (Sunday Oct. 7),  I was again doing a trail run in the Franklin Mountain State Park.  I heard a sound that I thought was a snake so I made a quick move to the side away from the sound.  Instantly, I felt a severe sharp pain in my left calf.  I thought for a minute that a snake had bit me and did a quick check and noticed no bite marks.  Clearly, this was no cramp and I immediately diagnosed myself as having sustained a tear in the calf muscle.  I was relieved I had not been bitten by a snake or tore my Achilles, but I knew it was bad.  I limped back to my car with great difficulty.

A calf or grastrocnemius tear is a common injury and one that was new for me.  It is graded 1-3 depending on the amount of muscle fibers involved.  Grade 3 is a complete tear and may require surgery.  I think mine was a grade 1 or 2.  I decided to be my own doctor and did not have any imaging studies.
Gastrocnemius Tear. Axial fat suppressed T2-weighted MR image shows feathery high signal intensity edema (white arrow) within the medial aspect of the medial gastrocnemius muscle, with a heterogeneous hematoma (black arrow) located between the gastrocnemius muscle and deep fascia.

The treatment is initially ice which I placed followed by rest, elevation, and compression.  The next day, the calf became very swollen and blood trickled down under the skin to the ankle and behind the knee.  I have not been injured in the 6 years of running so I was pretty upset but decided to tackle the problem head on.
I had to scratch the Eagle in the Sun Triathlon which was my next race the following Sunday.  Since I had been swimming ,  I decided to maintain my fitness and my sanity by swimming.  I used a pool buoy for 3 weeks and went 3 times a week for about 30-45 min of lap swimming.  I also signed up for Crossfit at the Human Lab and with the help of Jason A. my trainer I started working on upper body and core exercises.  I had heard of crossfit from many people who are doing it, so I took the opportunity to try something new while I recovered.   After a month, I was improving enough that I could wall normally.  I got a recommendation about an excellent massage therapist Frank M. who specializes in rehabilitating athletes.  I can say, he is excellent and I would recommend him highly.  He has been breaking up the scar tissue (collagen) that forms at the site of the tear and this has done wonders for me.  Last week, I started running again, first half a mile then 1 mile.  On Sunday, my "long run" will be 4 miles.   My  plan is on  moving up the miles very slowly and hope not to re injure the muscle.  I will get massage once a week now where before I was doing twice a week. I am signed up for Rocky Raccoon 100 miler in February which may be a stretch at this point.  I am hopeful, however,  for The Copper Canyon 50 miler in March 2013 so we'll see how it goes.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Bro -- Great to hear the calf is improving. I had a similar injury years back playing soccer and can empathize with the pain and suffering. Stay away from John Travolta's massage therapist!