Week 2 in our 17-week marathon training plan. Mondays are rest days (which doesn’t really make a difference for me right now) so Matt and Mike had the day off. I was wondering how I was going to feel this morning after my first run yesterday. I woke up with very stiff calves but not really pain. I heated up a corn bag, which is basically a heat pack made with a certain type of corn kernel that doesn’t pop, and put on my calf for about 10 minutes. My mom picked the corn bags up at a craft fair years ago and they work great! I then used the Stick pictured below to massage my calf. I decided to wear one neon pink calf compression sleeve today because it feels so good on! I also read that the heat helps the healing process by keeping blood flowing. It was a good conversation piece at work. Definitely did not match my dress though. I’m not sure I own anything that would match it…
Yesterday I decided I’d call a PT/sports massage place to get a consultation. I want to know where the line is between progression and regression. I’m not sure how much to push my calf. Is dull pain ok? Should I incorporate elliptical and maybe swimming? Are there certain stretches to do to speed up recovery? When do I ice and when do I heat? How bad is my strain? I had so many questions and really wanted some answers. Luckily, the Center for Neuromuscular and Massage Rehabilitation had an opening later in the day today! It was actually in the same building I was in on Friday for my dentist!
I have never had PT or even been in a PT facility. It looked very different than a typical doctor’s office – lots of resistance bands, balls, steps, etc. The person that I saw gave me some positive news: I hadn’t lost any strength in my left calf, there’s zero swelling (glad I RICE’ed early on!), and it’s not a grade II strain – just a mild grade I. I had read that grade II’s can take 5-8 weeks of healing. Phew. He had me do a few exercises to be sure it’s just the Soleus muscle that’s affected. I had no problem with calf raises or tip-toe walking but when I had to do a lunge and place my left toe 2 inches from the wall and then try to touch the wall with my knee, I had issues. Then he had me try to squat and do a little jump. I literally couldn’t. I felt bolted to the floor. He said it’s my body putting up a protective mechanism. I have the strength to jump but I don’t want to feel pain in my calf.
He gave me some exercises to do at home and a routine. For example, today: knee to wall 20 sec hold x 5 reps (start with toes 3 in off wall), one leg heel raises 10 sec hold at the bottom and heel raise up – do 5 reps x 5 sets (on a step), lunge stretch on both calves 20 x 5 reps. Tomorrow I can try the elliptical! I’ll do that again on Thursday if all goes well and then hopefully try to run on the treadmill by Friday. It would be 1 minute run then a 2 minute walk, 5 times. Baby steps. Thursday morning I’m going back to see the physical therapist. On Monday, I’ll go back to see Joel for a (hopefully last) follow-up appointment. The goal is to have him tell me at that point that I’m good to run!
The sports massage part was last. He actually wanted to show me the knot – gross! So I guess it was pretty large. Some parts hurt but it wasn’t terrible because I felt like it was helping in the long run. I tried to distract myself by asking him question after question. What do you prefer – foam roller or the stick? Turns out the stick for calves because you can’t get enough weight to do much with a foam roller on your calf. Will more heat packs help? Not really. Should I ice? Yes- after exercises and massage. Should I swim? Actually the pressure from the water could cause a spasm so no. The worst part was when he really dug in his fingers in the strained part. I now have very strange bruising, more like red splotches, from the massage that you can kind of see in the photo below. It feels much looser! But is pretty sore. Thank goodness I had the compression sleeve with me or else I’d really be limping. I knew it’d hurt at the time but didn’t realize how sore I’d be after from it. It’s better now, several hours later, but I still have the compression sleeve on. It’s a good sore, if that makes sense.
I met Mike by the Botanical Gardens to see the Corpse Flower which bloomed last night. This 8′ tall flower only blooms once every 25 years and only for 24-48 hours before collapsing. I’ve been watching the webcam, waiting for the blooming. There was already a pretty long line at 5:30 but it moved quickly. Here’s a photo of the Corpse flower and one of me outside, by the Capitol, checking on the bruising/redness on my leg.
Overall, I’m excited to have a definite plan and some answers. I’m glad it’s not a grade II strain (though still frustrated it wasn’t healed after my 2 weeks of resting it). Hopefully I’ll be back at it next week, joining Matt and Mike for their runs!