Question :

Calf strain after step aerobics class

Dear Ask The Doctor:
I took a step aerobics class on a step platform with 3 risers (it was high) Tough class, felt great . Came home, went outside and ran up my brick steps (13) back into the house. I heard a "ping" sound like a guitar string breaking ) in my left calf. Could hardly walk. 4 days of pain, I waited for 2 weeks to run on it or lift weights. 2 weeks later, I ran on it, lifted weights (using machines), felt great. Stepped into a pool minutes later (on my left leg) and it spasmed and I almost fell. Couldn't walk on it for a couple days (limped). Another 2 weeks, I have run on it on and off but still every few days, if I step funny or sprint to catch up with kids, I still feel it. Why isn't it healing? What went 'ping'?


Answer :

Dear Patient: 
 The calf muscle is made up of three muscles. The two heads of the gastrocnemeius and the soleus, these three muscles end in a common tendon: the Achilles tendon. Usually the complaint is a sharp intense pain after a sudden or straining move. If you have a partial tear or complete rupture of the calf muscle then physical activity and weight-bearing will be impossible for 4-12 weeks depending on the injury. If you are suffering just from inflammation of the muscle then you can resume training Step after 7-10 days. Ineffective warm up and warm down routines can lead to calf strains. Calf strains can be caused by dehydration. Deficiencies in calcium, trace minerals and magnesium can also lead calf strains. Therefore I would recommend you to ensure adequate water intake and multi minerals. One of the most common causes is a condition called over pronation. Over pronation basically means that your feet are rolling over too much as you run or exercise which causes excessive pressure on the calf muscle and Achilles tendon.  Initial treatment should consist of ice packs. You can also use a wet towel that has been in the fridge or commercially available ice packs for focused pain relief. An anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen (“Motrin”, “Aleve”) will help you to reduce the swelling, this should be taken with meals and never before exercising .I recommend you complete rest for 5 days for a mild calf strain and then a gradual increase in training. Massaging the calf also helps to speed up recovery. View the calf Massager with four free rolling heads it’s particularly good at giving yourself a deep calf massage.


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