Calf Update

I’ve told you before the story of my life of running from 11 years old to, ahem, near 50. One day, my left calf seized up one-half mile into a run. I was preparing for a 50K race at the time. I let it rest a little only to find the same problem. I can barely even walk on it when that happens. So I’d let it rest long, like a month. Then longer. Eventually it was a year. It made me so sad that something I’ve done all my life was now gone. This past year, I’ve used Thai Yoga Massage to get myself back out there. I would last longer before having the seizing problem again. It helped, but not enough. I needed a solution.

Truth be told, I work out a lot. I do Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman, calisthenics, and lots a yoga, all as part of my CrossFit regimen. But in all honestly, my journey into functional fitness somehow trimmed away the need for calf-specific training. Of all things, I thought the calf work would cause more problems for my running. Boy was I wrong.

So I’ve been on a calf raise kick lately. I mostly do singles with a dumbbell in hand on a 4×4" block. I focus mostly on eccentric contraction. Then I’m sure to stretch a lot afterward. The other day, I programmed sets of 20 with both feet as part of a CrossFit MetCon. I really think its working. My calves felt stronger and less susceptible to strain.

I end up giving a lot of advice to people with all the experience I have and the yoga and Thai yoga massage background. But sometimes, I don’t abide by my own advice. Eccentric contraction along with contract and relax type stretching (PNF) can be very healing for muscles and tendons that have problems. I’ll paraphrase that by saying there isn’t such a thing as tendonitis since its really a muscle problem. Tendons don’t often cause us problems unless they tear, which was a muscle problem in the first place.

Eccentric contraction is the lengthening of muscle. It is usually the lowering phase of a lift that lengthens muscle. Your little myofibrils both like it and hate it since eccentric contraction is where most soreness arises. But if soreness is an indicator for your growth, then so be it. Its a win-win in that case.

For any pain symptom in your skeleton, try eccentric contraction along with stretching and lots of heat (before and after). NEVER ICE! Haha, sorry to yell. But even health professionals will tell you to ice. Don’t do it. It will totally slow your healing. Yes, it feels good. But morphine numbs too, so numbness isn’t necessarily a positive characteristic. Instead, use heat to heal.

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