Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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My Muscle Fibres Are Conspiring Against Me

For the second time in three days, I woke up with a charley horse in my right calf this morning. The last time I had a bout of charley horses, the culprit ended up being insufficient amounts of sodium – I was doing a lot of physical activity and eating only things I’d been making from fresh fruits and veggies (i.e., pretty much zero processed foods) and whatnot, so I ended up not getting enough sodium to replace that which I was losing. Sprinkling a wee bit of salt on my food made it so that I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night feeling like someone was stabbing me in the gastrocnemius.

This time, however, I’ve been doing next to nothing in the way of physical activity – since my half marathon, the only appreciable exercise I’ve done is play hockey, but my charley horses haven’t been on mornings after hockey games – and I have been eating stuff with salt in it, so I can’t imagine sodium deficiency could be the culprit this time. My best guess is that my calf muscles are angry at them for virtually ignoring them since my race – they probably just want to go out for a run, but all I’ve been doing of late is working all day and then coming home and sitting at my desk doing homework all evening.

I’ll be very glad when this weekend and its two economics assignments, two economics exams, and massively significant core final exam are over. On Sunday morning I fly off to Montreal and I think that a run on the treadmill in my hotel gym, followed by hot tub time are going to be just what the doctor ordered. That, and some poutine.

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My calf issues are rearing their ugly head

My calves are yet again displeased with me. Ever since I ran the 8 km race two weekends ago, they have been super duper tight. And I woke up with a charley horse in my calf at about 4:30 this morning1.

After my long run on Saturday, I had a massage. I told my massage therapist about my unhappy calves and she worked them over pretty good. To the point that they’ve been super achy – like the kind of ache you have after a really good workout – for the past two days. And, like the last massage therapist that I had work over my calves, she commented on how ridiculously tight my soleus muscles are. “Your gastrocnemius muscles are fine, but your soleus muscles are TIGHT!”

For the uninitiated, the soleus muscle is this one:

Soleus - Muscles of the Lower Extremity Anatomy Visual Atlas, page 34

Now, the first massage therapist had given me a standing stretch to do that will stretch out the soleus. But this massage therapist told me, “I have a great stretch you can do while sitting at your desk!” Well, you know how I feel about multi-tasking my stretches!

To do the stretch, you just take off your shoes and sit in your chair with your knees bent like normal, but you put your toes up on a book, making sure your heel touches the floor, like this:

Day 322 - Sitting soleus muscle stretch

Soleus muscle stretch

It doesn’t look like much, but it super duper helped my tight calves! Honestly, even after my massage on Saturday, I couldn’t get my toes up on a book that was half the size of the one in the above photo2 and still have my heels on the ground, but after a few ~5 minute rounds of this stretch at the office today I can now, as you see in the photo, do it just fine.

Of course, if all else fails, you can just go for some of this, which I found while searching Flickr for “soleus”:

Soleus Organic Wine

Image Credits:

  • Funky picture of muscles of the lower leg was posted by Rob Swatski on Flickr.
  • Soleus Wine picture was posted by J.P. Hussey on Flickr
  • Photos of the stretch itself are all mine!

 

  1. Do. Not. Like. []
  2. For the record, the one in the above photo is Infinite Jest []