Thursday, February 3, 2011

Calf Heart Attacks

Well, I have a new injury as of this morning.  But I exaggerate - it is pretty minor and I have actually experienced it before.

This morning I did some calf raises/lowers before work but, due to limited time, I did not warm up and I did not stretch afterward.  It wasn't a major workout, just a couple sets of this one excercise I have been doing to address some Achilles tendon pain/tightness.  Immediately upon completion, I was out the door, walked to the bus stop (so I did have a little bit of cool-down), and got on the bus to work.  Everything felt fine.  Then, when I got off the bus to walk the three blocks to work, I had some sharp pain in my calf and had to limp there.

I don't think it is major.  This evening it is feeling significantly better already and I can walk without trouble.  At this point, I anticipate this only setting me back a couple of days.

When I got to work, I borrowed my co-workers "The Stick" (more on this in a second) and did some self message, which made it immediately stiffer, but also reduced the pain as my calf relaxed later.  I also iced it.  I did the Stick message once more during the day and, like I said, my calf started to feel better by the afternoon.

Anyway, this brings me to the lesson learned.  For one, I will always be warming up before doing strength training.  For two, I will be sure to stretch and cool down adequately before moving on.  I actually learned this lesson once before, in late October 2010, when I had my first "calf heart attack".

My previous episode came when I tried to squeeze in a run after work before it got dark.  I was out of town for work and therefore running in an unfamiliar locale.  My plan A did not end up being feasible and I rushed to get in something before being caught out at night (Plan B).  So I didn't warm up and the run ended up being significantly hillier than I expected.  To boot, I was running in a new shoe that is significantly more minimal (Saucony Kinvara), with a lower heel-toe drop and less structural support than I had been used to.

Recovering from this episode took me about three weeks.  A co-worker turned me on to the following advice, which assisted me greatly and got me back running in as short a time as possible: CALF HEART ATTACKS!

Which brings me to my final piece of advice: I (as well as several co-workers) now completely swear by "the Stick".  I first learned about this therapeutic device at a physical therapy clinic, while I was being treated for some knee pain about 2 years ago.  I immediately bought one and used it occasionally since.  However, when I started seeing a PT again for plantar fasciitis recently (which is a whole other story), I began using it more regularly/religiously and I really think it helps, particularly if you have tight calves (which can lead to many other problems).

More information about The Stick is available here:


Hi readers (if there are any out there...):

Well I started this blog in an attempt to chronicle my foray into the realm of distance running, which started in earnest approximately 2 years ago now.  However, recent injuries have compelled me to start to examine alternative running form and minimalism and I have been doing a TON of research lately into different philosophies and evidence-based research on these topics.

I thought it would be useful to document the changes I have gone through, how this affects me physically and share ideas and references that I encounter along the way.

Expect to see a slew of posts in the coming weeks/days trying to catch up on the past several months of "events" in my running career.

To get us started, here are a few links that I have been checking lately and found particularly useful:
1. Runblogger - Pete Larson's blog about running, which focuses on minimalism and running anatomy.
2. The Science of Running - Steve Magness on running biomechanics.
3. Newton Running - tons of advice from Danny Abshire, founder of Newton Running shoe company and author of "Natural Running"