In Part 1 I explained my wish of sharing with you some tips on how to treat yourself by minor sprains and strains like a “pulled” calf muscle based on my recent injury. Being proactive can promotes a better healing than just “wait and see”.
1 Try to understand what happened.
My calf “went” when pushing off in the sand moving forwards. I was warmed up, hydrated, and not tired yet. No pain in that calf before but…I remember I had some troubles with the R knee in the previous days and I spent the previous weeks on holiday without much exercise. Could it be that I was overcompensating for the right knee and not activating the muscles correctly? If so, can this originate from a misalignment in my pelvis?
Even though I know my body and my job quite well, I don’t shy away to ask professional help from my colleagues. So, I booked an appointment with our osteopath for tomorrow because I can’t do it myself.
Tip no 1: when injured, try to understand what happened to you and why (poor warming up, external forces, tiredness, other strains) . This prepares you mentally to deal with your body rather then ignore it and wait for better times.
2 Assess the damage
Here common sense should prevail and if you suspect a major damage or a fracture then you need to call for some help. The tips I am giving here are for minor strains and sprains, which can though cause lot of discomfort and lead to more problems.
My calf was immediately very sore and tender to touch and went quite hard. I was able to limp around but couldn’t push off. What does this mean?
When some muscle fibers are overstretched/strained the rest of the tissue around the “damage” tends to contract to protect the area. This is usually an over reaction which can per se create more pain and discomfort. So, my strategy was;
- Gently palpate the area and apply some pressure to determine the extent of the tightness
- Gently massage the are with the intent to desensitise and relax the muscles rather than digging in
- Get the muscle to work to improve the blood circulation/oxygen supply: move the ankle up/down for at least 20-30 times while sitting or lying down.
- Get up and try to walk as normally as possible
3 Can I continue?
Like many of you I didn’t want to give in but equally I didn’t want to risk creating a bigger damage.
An injured structure is not simply damaged locally. The resulting malfunction will affect the surrounding areas as well and the central computer (our brain) will modify some movement patterns. The result: poor /altered coordination, delayed reactions, and increased risk of more injuries.
After 10 minutes of the above treatment, I decided to join in again. I soon realised that I couldn’t push off to move forward quickly (surprise -surprise), backwards was easier but in any case, I was too slow and the voice in the back of my head was saying: don’t do it.
I decided to do the sensible thing and terminate my beach volleyball session.
4 Active rest
This is when we can change our mind set! Instead of being a victim and feel sorry for ourselves we can start our rehab work to get back to activity safely and in a faster pace than just using the” wait and see approach”. Ask yourself if you can do something by yourself for yourself.
By the way, RICE is still the option to follow if you have a major swelling. My tips aim to show you a more proactive approach when possible.
More tips: when injured your sympathetic nervous system goes on alert : To calm it down you can:
- Focus on your breathing https://swissphysio.co.uk/videos/deep-breathing-exercises-to-break-up-your-daily-routine/
- Gentle trunk rotations in different positions, seated or standing, on all 4. Exercises like “threading the needle” or simply rhythmically rotate your trunk help re-balance the nervous system.
- Get the muscle to work to improve the blood circulation/oxygen supply: move the ankle up/down for at least 20-30 times while sitting or lying down. If you injured the quads or hamstring, then focus on moving the knee in a pain free range.
- If needed, use and ice pack. If you think heat is for you, then try a hot shower. Whatever works for you. At least try.
- Walk if possible, taking small steps and trying to keep the natural movement. So, avoid stiffening up knees and hips when not necessary. Try to roll the foot in the ground.
- If you feel you must tip toe, try to raise your heel to decrease the tension in the calf/Achilles tendon. (use heel cups or shoes with small soft heels)
- Drink plenty of water and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to get enough Vit C important for regeneration. Proteins are also needed to repair an injury.
- Remember, Alcohol slows down the recovery process
- By fresh trauma and injuries rather take a pain killer then anti-inflammatory.
After I decided to stop, I did the above exercises, I took a hot shower and finished it with 2 minutes of cold stream especially on my calf. I applied some Kinesio taping to help with the removal of swelling and reduction of tightness.
I then drank quite a lot of water over the following hours (but I admit I also had some wine with the meal). I went for a nice walk on the golf course and did some trunk rotations. Repeated the ankle movement exercises while in bed before falling asleep.
As you can see there are few things that you can do to that the first step in your own rehabilitation.
Tomorrow I will tell you more about my Day 1.
Of course the exercises can be adapted according to the injury.
I will be more than happy to advise you.
Just contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or book your appointment here .Published on: 6th October 2021