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• Normal muscle soreness will recover with rest, ice, and massage. It is not necessary for the soreness to be completely gone to resume training. Shorter workouts, slower pacing from the beginning and more frequent walk breaks will often allow for training while the soreness abates. If the pain increases during a workout, even after taking a rest interval and reducing the effort significantly, stop.
Massage has been very effective in treating calf muscle problems. See an experienced sports massage therapist who has successfully treated runners with the type of problems you are having. Be gentle with massage immediately after the injury occurred. Read the section on calf tears/massage, below.
Stretching is risky and can damage a tear or strain further, and often aggravates a calf muscle cramp. Don’t push the muscle into a stretch if you feel pain or damage.
• A strain should be treated with ice and very gentle massage initially. Heel pads/lifts, or moderately elevated shoes should be worn. Avoid stretching until healing is well underway, if then. Strains do not require a cast or walking boot unless they are very painful. After a few days, the intensity of the massage can increase. Most mild strains become almost painless during everyday activity after about 2 weeks. At this point an exercise should be added: the exercise known as “calf raises” or “toe raises.” While standing on a floor (these should not be done on an incline – the heel, should be on the same surface as the forefoot) rise up onto the forefoot lifting the heels up as high as possible standing on tiptoe. Lower slowly to the ground. Do this 25 times if possible without pain or fatigue. Stop if the injury begins to hurt. When able to do 25, modify the exercise where 25 are done with the toes pointing toward each other (pigeon-toed). Then immediately do 25 with the toes pointing out (duck-footed). This raises the total to 50 overall. When this can be done without causing the injury to hurt, it is OK to begin trying to return to training. It may take days to a couple of weeks to achieve the goal. If this is not done, re-injury is quite common.
• Calf tears may require immobilization if they are severe. If there is significant calf pain and a tear is suspected, see a doctor. A cast or walking boot can allow the defect in the muscle to heal. Treatment for mild tears, or tears that are almost healed can be the same as that for strains except that massage should be delayed until later stages. It is important for the repaired tissue to bridge the tear before using massage. Tears normally take much longer than strains to heal.
• See a doctor if the pain is strong, if there is a depression in the muscle, if swelling and redness is obvious, or if cramping is from an unknown source. It is common for a doctor to recommend physical therapy, which can speed up the healing process.
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• Reoccurring calf Yoga Injuries indicate muscle damage or defective muscle tissue. These may occur as training is resumed or randomly, every few months. Lack of flexibility is over-emphasized as a cause of this problem. There is no doubt that tight calves contribute to greater load on the calf, but many people with extremely tight calves never get injured. Strength is the overlooked variable. Strong calves are more difficult to injure and weak calves can be injured more easily. Just because a calf is large does not mean it has adequate strength to resist injury. When people yoga or walk, they need to push off for propulsion. The push is provided mostly by the calf muscle cells firing causing the muscle to contract. As connective tissue in the calf contracts and stretches during the yoga motion, it rebounds like a spring providing power to the ankle, adding to the mechanical action of the ankle. When calves are excessively tight, the muscles work less because the connective tissue is stretched further and does more of the propulsion. A subtle weakening of the muscles itself can occur. Any demand beyond the strength of the connective tissue will cause it to tear. The muscle needs to be strong to help the connective tissue and protect it. This kind of strength is very specific. Standard weight training is not as effective as exercise done in the yoga motion (hills, longer and slower workouts). After the injury has recovered by using the previously mentioned treatments, including the calf raises, and training is beginning, it is necessary to gradually overload the calves in a controlled manner. Coaches do this with runners by gradually adding specific workouts. A series of hill repeat workouts, for example, can precede track workouts and longer distance track repeats are scheduled before moving to shorter, more intense distances. Average runners or walkers can improve strength by performing 15 or 20 minutes of “springy striding” once or twice a week. This is nothing more than yoga or walking with a little more bouncy stride than necessary, after a 10 minute warm-up of gentle yoga. This is not jumping or bounding. If done correctly, only you will know when you are doing it. An observer might notice that you have a nice lively stride. We often do this anyway when we feel really energetic or at the end of a short workout. These exercises should be done in the middle of an easy day, not during a long or hard workout. Maintaining this routine is especially important for anyone who has had a problem with their calves and especially those who tend to yoga the same distance each day, maintaining the same weekly mileage. If the exercise is neglected, after a period of time, the calf injury pattern can return.
• The common causes of calf Yoga Injuries are the following: Unequal leg length, excessive pronation and supination, extremely tight calves, rigid high arches, and large body mass. Leg length differences are best determined by a medical professional, but the clues are the following: Unequal shoe wear, pant leg length differences, and an obvious difference when standing in front of a mirror. The calf injury can occur on either the long or short side usually on the short side. Pronation and supination can be managed with shoe changes and orthotics. The effect of tight calves can be reversed by choosing shoes that are not low in the heels and by using thin heel lifts. Many people use lifts throughout their yoga/walking careers. Those with rigid high arches can receive relief with heel padding as a gentle lift. Getting good shoe advice can help greatly. High body mass stresses the calves, and may require treatment even when fewer signs of structural flaws are present. More frequent walk breaks, from the beginning of runs, has reduced calf problems especially for heavier runners.
• Recurrent calf Yoga Injuries are common as athletes grow older, often due to the reduction in daily physical activity. Alternate exercise/sports are forgotten and weakness gradually sets in. Recovery time increases with increasing age, and tissue damage heals more slowly.
• Working out on soft surfaces where the heel sinks down is sometimes a cause (in sand
• Jump rope and calf raises with additional weight can injure the calf muscle unexpectedly.
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