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  • Calf Strain?

    I might be jumping the gun, but I figured I'd post in case anyone wanted to offer an unofficial diagnosis or recommend treatment.

    I started training for a half marathon a little over a month ago. I'm training in a program through a local running store. We've gradually increased our mileage, and today we ran about 7 miles. I felt fine the whole way until about the last half mile when I started getting what I thought was a cramp in my left calf. It started to get increasingly painful and I slowed down my pace considerably to finish. The pain is only there when I try contract the muscle or "push off." I have full range of motion with no pain and it's not really painful to touch. And it's not really painful to stretch. But I can't walk normally without some pain.

    At this point I'm trying to guess whether this was just a bad cramp or if I may actually have a muscle strain. I'm really nervous about it now because I've been trying hard to get in my best shape for the police academy, which I recently learned will probably start in Feb.

    So anyone have a guess? Cramp? Strain? Something worse?
    "No one can make you feel like a turd without your permission." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

  • #2
    Can't tell you, but this may be helpful: back in my fencing days, when we would have all-day or two-day competitions, my coach insisted we drink Gatorade, and they always served salty food. Some of us took salt tablets.

    You sweat out all your salt-- but your muscles need salt to work properly.

    Dunno if that's it or not, but it might be something to consider.

    Good luck with it!
    We do not all come to religion over the wandering years,
    but sooner or later we all get to meet God. -- Edward Conlon

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Chaplain Keppy View Post
      You sweat out all your salt-- but your muscles need salt to work properly.
      while u do lose salt as u sweat, this theory is old school and has been disproven. if you lacked sodium then it could cause muscle cramps, but they would have likely started much sooner into your run and the pain probably would have subsided by now. judging by how the injury sounds i would say rest the affected area, ice it, and STRETCH. if this does not help and pain lingers after a few more days, see a doc(ortho)/physical therapist. how long has it been since the onset of the injury until now?
      The greatest injustice is using the law to keep justice at bay.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Addicted2Iron View Post
        while u do lose salt as u sweat, this theory is old school and has been disproven. if you lacked sodium then it could cause muscle cramps, but they would have likely started much sooner into your run and the pain probably would have subsided by now. judging by how the injury sounds i would say rest the affected area, ice it, and STRETCH. if this does not help and pain lingers after a few more days, see a doc(ortho)/physical therapist. how long has it been since the onset of the injury until now?
        It's only been less than 24 hours. It was definitely not a sudden thing... no pops or shooting pains. Just kinda felt like a cramp starting, but it persisted. I've been applying ice packs and stretched it a few times.

        Chaplain Keppy on future runs I'm going to take some electrolyte supplements, just in case that's what caused it. It was humid, and I sweat a lot. I was just suprised because this run was only about 3/4 of a mile longer than the last one I did. So it's not like I was trying to outdo myself.

        I've been reading that a low grade calf strain may heal in only a week. I've registered to run a 5K benefiting fallen officers next Sunday. I really hope whatever this is has healed by then.
        "No one can make you feel like a turd without your permission." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

        Comment


        • #5
          You may be jumping the gun as it is probably nothing but just in case I would go ahead and rest a few days anyways.

          I take it you were doing your long run on Sunday. They will probably have you increase your mileage every other Sunday by a mile or two (usually no more than 10% of the previous weeks mileage) until you are close to the HM distance. Being relatively new to running longer distances you are prone to injuries and this is not like the military where pain is only weakness leaving the body. Listen to what your body tells you and back off if you feel the pain is more than soreness and actually an injury. Definitely rest, ice, and ibuprofen with a meal. Hold off on stretching right away as if you have a tear stretching may do more harm than good. I know you already are aware of this but never stretch cold muscles -- warm up first.

          Having said all that I would think dehydration might have been your issue. Water is fine for short workouts and runs less than an hour in cooler weather, but you are running in the heat. A sports drink or gel helps sustain your glucose level during exercise. The sodium and carbs cause the fluid in the sports drink to be absorbed more quickly and the sodium helps retain the fluid that you have consumed. There was a thread on here where someone asked about a sports drink while running distances in the heat and all the muscle heads told him they were garbage!!! BB run from the products with carbs and sugars on them but when you start increasing your miles you need them!

          Good luck in your training you will find your time improve on shorter distances from training for the HM. I have a marathon in 5 days and it is killing me that I can't run as much as I am on the tapering portion of my training...

          Here is a link regarding lower leg pain from running.
          http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_5/196.shtml
          Last edited by GrayPatriot; 09-07-2010, 06:30 AM. Reason: Edit to add link!

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          • #6
            Thanks, GrayPatriot. I wouldn't normally freak about something like this, but I've been working hard to get in shape and I really don't want to take time off. Also, it's the same leg where I ruptured my achilles tendon in 2006. I don't think this is related, but it brought back bad memories.

            It's feeling quite a bit better today, and I'm walking almost normally. I think I will still try to take off the rest of the week as far as running and throw in rowing and some other things for cardio. We're supposed to run a 4 mile this weekend, and I'm also registered for a 5K. I'm still hoping to do both of those if I take it easy all week.

            Any recommendations as far as electrolyte products to help me on longer runs? So far (at 7 miles) energy hasn't been a problem, but but dehydration may be. The long runs are at 7:00 a.m. and I typically wake up only 30-45 minutes before and have a 20 oz bottle of water and some oatmeal and a banana.

            Like you said, I'm pretty much new to distance running, but I'm hoping developing my endurance will help me a lot in the police academy early next year, but depends a lot on me staying free of injuries.
            "No one can make you feel like a turd without your permission." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

            Comment


            • #7
              The e-Gel below was recommended to me by someone who has finished 7 Triathlons and all the triathletes I know use the same product.
              GU products are probably the best selling as they have been around the longest but powerbar, cliffshots, and Gatorade are all in the business.

              http://www.cranksports.com/products/eGel/

              Make sure you try out any of these gels before a race as they may play with your stomach. This is why it is a good idea to run with an Imodium pill also ;-)

              Recently I have run 12 miles without drinking water or taking any electrolyte gel/drink only because of poor planning. I try not to run too far over 6 miles without at least drinking water, but on race day I will be taking an e-gel every 6 miles.

              You are not running the 5k and the 4 miles on the same weekend are you?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by GrayPatriot View Post
                You are not running the 5k and the 4 miles on the same weekend are you?
                Was plannin' on it. Too much you think? 4 miles is a pretty comfortable run for me usually. Was gonna do the 4 mi Saturday and the 3.2 mi. race Sunday.
                "No one can make you feel like a turd without your permission." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

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                • #9
                  So I'm actually getting a lot of cramps lately in different muscles. Most people are suggesting my electrolytes are outta whack. Yesterday a friend actually suggested that I may be drinking "too much water." Or rather that I might actually need to up my salt intake to match my increased water intake. Also, I sweat a tremendous amount when working out. So I may need to look into taking salt tablets, at least during my longer runs.
                  "No one can make you feel like a turd without your permission." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    During lunch I picked up some electrolyte tablets. I'm going to try them out starting this weekend on some runs and workouts.
                    "No one can make you feel like a turd without your permission." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I don't think your have hyponatremia if you are just suffering from cramps but I agree with your friend in saying your electrolytes are out of whack. Some endurance athletes I know increase potassium when not training (naturally, bananas, baked potato with skin, prune juice, OJ, raisins, etc) and then increase the sodium while exercising.

                      Like with any other supplements I would do a lot of research as excess may cause damage; excess potassium can result in hyperkalemia. I don't think you are in jeopardy of getting injured due to excess anything including water but just keep it in the back of your mind!

                      If you are going to run the 4 miles on Sat make it an easy 4 at a nice slow pace. 90% of my runs are at a pace 1:30ish per mile slower than my 10k pace and I only run maybe two 5ks a year and it takes more out of me than any other distance...

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                      • #12
                        We ran 1 mile fast on a track for time and then an easy 2.5 miles. No cramps thus far. Knock on wood.
                        "No one can make you feel like a turd without your permission." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

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                        • #13
                          I'm about ready to give up. Ran a 5K this morning.. easy pace. Left calf is cramping again. I can't figure this one out. I took an electrolyte tablet before the race. Drank gatorade after the race. The sh*ttiest part is it persists for days. Last Sunday it kept me away from Crossfit for 4 days. I just can't afford this. I guess I'm gonna drop the 1/2 marathon training, and just keep on Crossfit and weightlifting, but I'm terrified of what's going to happen at the police academy I'm supposed to attend in February. I guess my hope is that the problem will go away if I stop running for the next 5 months.
                          This just really sucks because I feel like I'm so close to getting in decent shape, but I've got one muscle holding me back.
                          "No one can make you feel like a turd without your permission." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

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                          • #14
                            I wonder if you would be well-advised to speak to a sports medicine doc? And perhaps sooner rather than later, in case you need to use those five months doing some particular sort of physical therapy or stretching exercises or something.
                            We do not all come to religion over the wandering years,
                            but sooner or later we all get to meet God. -- Edward Conlon

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Chaplain Keppy View Post
                              I wonder if you would be well-advised to speak to a sports medicine doc? And perhaps sooner rather than later, in case you need to use those five months doing some particular sort of physical therapy or stretching exercises or something.
                              I guess I'm gonna start looking into that tomorrow.
                              "No one can make you feel like a turd without your permission." - Eleanor Roosevelt.

                              Comment

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