Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Calf Update & I Need Some Advice

Last Friday, I went to a see a sports medicine doctor about my calves. I was going to go in April when I have spring break, but Elizabeth suitably freaked me out and convinced me to move the appointment up.

Dr. Cintron took a very detailed history - I was glad I have a blog because I was able to pinpoint when the pain started and how it progressed over time. She palpated my calves and had me do a few stretches, none of which hurt. My calves only hurt after certain exercises or while running.

Sometimes they are tight early in a run and then loosen up 30 minutes in; sometimes they feel fine and then get tight a mile in.

She was skeptical that I have a strain or tear in both calves, but ordered an MRI anyway, which I will have this Friday. My followup with her is Monday afternoon. I hate that this is an ordeal; I wish it could just be diagnosed and over with.
In the meantime, no running or high-impact exercise. (What am I supposed to do for cardio?!) I'm on a regimen of taking Naproxen twice daily to combat any inflammation I may have. Before I left, the nurse set me up with some ice and TENS therapy (she was glad to hear I have a TENS unit and was using it at home) and then gave me a massage with Biofreeze.
I hate icing. SO COLD.
She also printed out some stretches for me to do with explicit instructions not to overstretch. I'm very inflexible so I'm totally guilty of overstretching frequently, but I'm going to be good!

So, that's the deal for now. I'm not sure if I'd rather get definitive answers from the MRI (which would mean bilateral strains/tears somehow) or not. No strain would mean possibly a less serious issue, but it could mean compartment syndrome, which Dr. Cintron did not rule out.

I wish I could run just to test the pain and be sure it's still there; I've been resting so long I'm starting to doubt my own memory! But maybe if the MRI is negative, she'll stick me on a treadmill to get some results.

Any advice for getting some cardio while I'm avoiding high-impact exercise?



  1. Can you bike?
    I too was grateful that I had to blog to look back on when I was dealing with my injury and trying to tell the Dr when it started and the symptoms and what not.

    What is TENS?

  2. I'm not an expert at all, but I've read that people do pool running, and the elliptical for less impact exercises, but good cardio. Also Yoga!

    I hope you have a speedy recovery!

  3. Hey Ali. As you know, I've been more or less off running for months now, but I am still getting in a lot of good cardio. With a calf issue, I would probably lay off elliptical as that is most likely to stress the calf out. I've been doing a lot of biking, swimming and rowing. Biking is obviously the easiest one to adopt here and a spin class is an excellent workout. If you do decide to join a gym and they have a rowing machine, have someone who knows what they are doing give you a lesson or two. GREAT workout (rowing is by far my favorite) but you need good form here. Finally, you said you weren't a strong swimmer, but I would still recommend swimming. If you're really terrible at it, sign up for a lesson or two. Swimming is very technical and it can occupy your mind in a very healthy way while your calf heals. I've been SO grateful that I can swim for a workout these past few months. This is an arrow you want in your quiver, so to speak, and now would be a great time to invest in it. I am betting your local YMCA has a pool and some sort of month-by-month membership plan. The YMCA will also for sure have swimming lessons. Let us know how it goes!

  4. I'm sorry you didn't get a definitive answer. I've been there, it's so frustrating.

  5. I hope the MRI reveals some answers for you!

    When I've had to take time off of running for an injury in the past I've enjoyed pool running. It's definitely more boring than real running but it sort of gives your body the same feel. Swimming can be killer too if you don't mind putting your face under/into the water. Swimming laps reminds me so much of running because you really have to pace yourself!

    If you're going to do pool running and you have a TV outside in your patio area I would definitely put on a show/movie, or consider getting a waterproof case for your phone so you can listen to a podcast. Pool running is great but mind numbingly boring!

  6. Frustrating to not have an answer. I hope you learn more in your follow-up appointment. One thing you could do is get a guest pass to a gym. They usually let new members have a trial pass for a week or so. You could use the bike, elliptical, and rowing machines to see what you like.