Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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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 []

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Way More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About My Calf Muscles

So I’ve finally resurfaced from beneath the grant application I was working on this week1.  The nice thing about working on grants on contract, as opposed to actually being responsible for the grant, is that you can set your contract to say “I’m going to give you deliverable X by date Y to level of quality Z” and then you do that. And in this case, it was my job to deliver a solid draft of the grant, but not the final product2. So while the grant isn’t due ’til October 1st, my piece of it is done. The person for whom I was working on this asked if I’d like to take on a second contract to do the next round of revisions, but I declined, because I’m just too freaking burnt out and I need my life back!  I am, you may recall, scheduled to run a half marathon in two weeks, but I didn’t do a single run this past week. Not a single run! I played hockey on Sunday and Wednesday, but hockey is a different type of exercise, and I really needed to get back to running.

Collage of varius Gray's muscle pictures by Mi...
Image via Wikipedia

But when I tried to go for a run yesterday, my calf muscles totally cramped up. Like to the point that I had to stop running and turn around and limp back the 2 km I’d just run. Not impressed. My calves had been giving me trouble lately – the morning after my first hockey game I woke up with a wicked charley horse, but I chalked it up to dehydration.  A few days later, another charley horse, though this time I hadn’t been playing hockey. Then, over this past week, where I had been doing no running and lots of sitting, my calves were being really twitchy. Not charley horses, but little involuntary muscular contractions which ranged from annoying to ouchy. I chalked this up to going from lots of running to no running – my muscles were clearly staging a revolt! I figured that going for a run last night after work would work out the twitchiness out. Clearly, I was mistaken. Immediately upon arriving at home from my aborted run, I booked a massage therapy appointment. My main massage therapist is always booked up3, so I tried my back up massage therapist, but she’s away at a seminar today. So

Day 94

I Googled to find someone who could take me and managed to get an appointment for 8:30 this morning at a sports massage therapy clinic. As it turns out, the guy who worked my muscles today also works the muscles of the BC Lions and, starting next season, the Vancouver White Caps4.  After my massage, my calves felt so much better it was ridiculous. I went out for a nice run – not too fast, ‘cuz I didn’t want to push it, but not that slow – and my calves felt fine!  Hooray!

Also, the massage therapist seems to think that the problem probably resulted from my lack of stretching after hockey and insufficient stretching after running. Because I totally suck at stretching. My thought process is usually “I’ve just spent 2 hours running, I need to get on with my life!”  Or I am so exhausted that I want to do is have a “post-run shavasana” and then, when I have enough energy to pick myself up off the floor, hit the shower. Granted, my main massage therapist, my back up massage therapist and my chiropractor have all, at various points, noted the importance of stretching post-running. But, you know, I’m not very good at doing what I’m told. Now that I’ve seen the repercussions of my lackadaisicality regrading post-exercise stretching5, however, I think I will actually do what I’m told this time. Also, this massage therapist suggested that soaking in hot baths (with epsom salt) is also good for hardworking muscles. And he suggested that one can multitask by soaking in a hot bath with a glass of wine. Multitasking FTW.

  1. seriously, the amount of work that it ended up being was far more than I could have anticipated. There were nights this week that I came home from work at ~4 p.m. then worked until 1 a.m.  Not cool. []
  2. though we did negotiate a bit of extra revisions during that process, as it was a type of grant neither of us had written before, proposing  the use of a fairly new technique as well. That’s the other cool thing about doing this type of work – in addition to making some extra moolah, I also get to learn new stuff! []
  3. in fact, I can only get an appointment with her by being on her cancellation list – she just books me in when someone cancels, because her schedule is perma-booked []
  4. And I have to say that having someone who regularly rubs the muscles of pro athletes tell you that you are fit while he’s rubbing your muscles is a nice ego boost! []
  5. lackadaisical – adjective – lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy. See also: flossing []