Where Your Dreams Become Reality
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Poster: Greg Beal
Subject: RE: CHRONIC CALF spasm/strain injury
After 20 years of competitive running, my calf cramped one morning on a long run. Deep in the thickest portion. I thought nothing of it, rest, eat some bananas, etc. Unfortunately, both calves began cramping repeatedly over the next six years. I'd run for 4-6 months, miss a month, run for 3-5, miss a month, until finally, one or both cramped on almost every run, and at the worst, would cramp when climbing stairs.
Then, I tore an achilles and had it surgically repaired at Kerlan-Jobe. I told the orthopedist about the calves and he said maybe compartment syndrome but his comments kept me away from diagnosis and surgery. Instead, I tried to rehab the calves during the achilles rehab. Didn't work. The physical therapists sent me to a podiatrist who said orthotics would cure the problem. They didn't.
Finally, I gave up. Basically, didn't run for more than a decade. The few times I tried, the calves cramped. Then in 2004, my family bought me an elliptical. Started using it but then fell and messed up my knee. During rehab, didn't work directly on my calves but worked on both whole legs (stretching, strengthening, ultra, heat, ice, etc.). Back on the elliptical again and tried running a little really really slowly on occasion. A little cramping but it would disappear in a few hours rather than a few months. When the knee was 100%, I was on the elliptical about 7-10 hours a week for several months.
And I started running: 13+ minute miles, 2-3 times a week, and slowly increased amount and distances over the next six months. No cramping!! Though I could still feel the twinges in my calves and did encounter other problems after the years off (hamstring strains, achilles soreness, etc.).
I don't know what made the difference for me, but I think it had to do with pushing on the elliptical and the physical therapy, that somehow the combination loosened up the calves.
My suggestion: take time off, introduce various stretching and strengthening exercises and begin cross training. Get serious about it in terms of the time spent and then start running a little. See how it goes.
Best of luck.
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