Tearing your calf muscle – great link and advice

I was in the gym today trying to keep up my new healthy life style, I did 15 minutes on the Bike, 15 minutes on the Crosstrainer and then I thought I would end the session with a good run on the Treadmill, I set my run to 20 minutes, was in the 19th minute and my run felt strong and I felt like I could do more than the minute that was left, I looked at the clock and saw 40 seconds remaining, I then felt a pain shoot directly into my calf, shoot! being the optimal word as it felt like a bullet had ripped into that part of my leg! I pushed the emergency stop button and limped off the belt of the treadmill, I tried putting weight down on the affected leg but could not without the shooting pain, in the end I hobbled out of the gym and as long as I didn’t bend that part of the leg I could get away with just looking like I had shit myself as I walked.

I’m really annoyed that this happened, I was just getting the taste for exercise again and now I can’t walk properly, I did the same thing a year ago but this was more painful, the back of my calf, 6 hours later looks like Popeyes arm.

I am thinking to give the running a miss, the Bike and Crosstrainer are less enjoyable but I have never experienced any injuries from them.

I found this great link explaining what happens when you tear your calf and how to treat it –

Managing acute calf tears

Written by Tom Goom, senior Physio at The Physio Rooms Brighton. Follow Tom on Twitter.

Calf pain in runners is quite common and can become a persistent nuisance. Fortunately it usually responds well to treatment and there are a lot of simple exercises you can do to help it recover. This is the first of a series of pieces on calf injury and will guide you through early management of a calf tear. Later pieces will examine non-traumatic calf pain and rehab of strength and flexibility.

The calf is made up of 2 large muscles – gastrocnemius and soleus and a smaller muscle called plantaris. Gastrocnemius is the more superficial of the muscles with soleus sitting beneath it. Gastroc. has two heads to it and crosses both the ankle and knee joints – this makes it somewhat vulnerable to injury. Injuries to soleus are far more rare. In one study of 141 cases referred for ultrasound after calf strain just 1 had a soleus tear while 94 had gastroc injuries.

Traumatic calf injury

The calf is usually injured with sudden movements that dorsiflex the ankle (bend it up) while weightbearing. With the gastroc this often happens with the knee straight as the muscle is then stretched over 2 joints. Activities like rapid lunges (common during racquet sports) or acceleration to sprint when running are common causes of calf injury. It may also occur when the muscle is fatigued after distance running.

During a calf injury many people describe a sudden sensation of being struck on the back of the leg. Swelling is common and it can be difficult to walk initially. In more minor calf injuries people can sometimes continue with their sport at the time of the injury but the pain becomes more severe after. Of the two heads of the muscle the medial head (on the inside of the calf) is more commonly injured than the lateral head (on the outside).

Management of acute calf injury involves POLICE (formerly RICE). With muscle injuries anti-inflammatory medications are not currently recommended, especially in the first 48 hours as they are thought to delay healing. As with all injuries RunningPhysio recommends seeing an appropriate health professional. In the case of calf injuries this is especially important as there is a risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

Symptoms of DVT include pain, swelling and tenderness in the calf often accompanied by warmth and redness of the skin. Unfortunately these are often common symptoms after a calf injury even without DVT. In many cases people sent for investigation of suspected DVT are found not to have one, however if in doubt get it checked out as a DVT is a serious condition and can lead to pulmonary embolism which is potentially life threatening.

Treatment of a calf injury depends largely on severity (timescales detailed below are approximate and may vary considerably between individuals) but I follow these principles of treatment for calf injuries;

  1. Respect the healing process
  2. Allow a period of relative rest
  3. Maintain calf flexibility and strength where possible but exercise within pain limits
  4. Gradually re-introduce activity that involves stretching or loading the calf muscle
  5. Rehab any deficits that exist after the healing process (this might include calf strength, power, endurance or bulk, reduced calf flexibility, altered movement control etc etc.)

With a minor calf injury symptoms will be mild with minimal swelling, you will be able to walk unaided with slight discomfort but sudden movements that stretch or work the calf may cause an increase in pain. Initial treatment involves rest for 2-3 days after which you can often resume gentle cross training, providing it’s pain free. This might include swimming, or cycling (with low resistance) but should avoid impact, heavy resistance or sudden movements. Once symptoms settle you can start some light jogging on a treadmill and see how it feels before gradually returning to training. The timeframe for this varies from around 1-4 weeks depending on the injury and the individual. When you do return to running avoid hill training and speed work initially as this places a greater stress on the calf muscle.

Moderately severe calf injuries need to be treated with a little more caution. In the early stages there will be noticeable swelling and discomfort. You will be able to walk unaided but with some difficulty and pain. Any movements that place even a small stress or load on the calf are likely to be painful. This might include going up or down stairs, moving the ankle or pressure on the calf area.

The first 2-3 days are likely to involve bleeding within the muscle and significant swelling. In these acute stages you’ll need to be more attentive to rest, elevation and ice and I wouldn’t recommend cross training. You may benefit from offloading the calf a little. This can be done by putting a heel wedge in your shoe, strapping the calf or even wearing shoes with a heel (although probably something stable rather than stilettos!). This should be a short term strategy and you should aim to walk in normal shoes or barefoot as soon as comfortable to do so.

By days 4-7 you may find you’re comfortable enough to start very gentle exercises for the calf. Simply move the foot up and down, first with the knee bent, then with it straight. Move only as far as comfortable – don’t push through pain. Little and often is usually best – around 10-15 reps 3 times per day. The aim is to encourage the muscle to contract and relax, this should help clear swelling and maintain flexibility.

After day 7 you’re usually in the sub-acute phase of injury. The muscle is still healing and that new tissue will be vulnerable so you want to avoid excessive stress on it. The body is amazing when it comes to healing and it’s worth respecting that. We often aim to accelerate things but perhaps, in truth, our aim is more to promote the best environment to allow things to heal at their normal rate. It’s important to maintain flexibility and strength in the calf muscle as things heal, but this shouldn’t come at the expense of the healing process.

From approximately day 7 to 21 post injury scar tissue is still developing but isn’t usually strength enough to handle large loads. As a result I would avoid static stretches during this period, instead use the 2 traditional calf stretches (pictured below) but do them dynamically. Rather than moving until you feel a stretch and holding it, just focus on controlled, gentle movement in pain free range. Alternatively a minisquat is a simple way to maintain ankle mobility. You can also start some supported calf raises if able – do on both feet (rather than just 1) – push up onto your toes and slowly lower. You can usually resume cross training from 2-3 weeks post injury but keep it pain free and avoid impact and resistance work.

From 3-4 weeks after calf injury the scar tissue will usually have developed enough to handle a little more load, at this stage you may benefit from starting static calf stretches if comfortable. In which case stretch both the gastroc and soleus muscles, using the techniques above and holding for around 30 seconds for 3-5 reps. You can often progress strength work at this point, if comfortable try single leg calf raises on your weaker side. Do as many as comfortable and gradually increase until you can do the same on both legs. Stop if painful!

Severe calf injuries can result in a complete tear of the gastrocnemius muscle. There will be significant swelling and pain and a haematoma may develop. You may be unable to walk without help from crutches, even then it will be difficult to weight bear and many people choose to hop instead! Management of these injuries varies considerably and will be guided by your consultant or physiotherapist.

Final thoughts: calf injuries can be painful and potentially debilitating and should be assessed by a health care professional to rule out serious complications such as DVT. As ever on RunningPhysio if in doubt, get it checked out. Most calf tears respond well to treatment but the healing process must be respected and it’s important not to do too much too soon.



The Expendables 3 (2014) Movie Review; Love the action stars, one too many in this one!

You could argue that what the ”Expendables franchise” lacks in quality story line and dialogue is made up in the sheer amount of action stars that are crammed into the film, this installment felt like a complete over kill, not only do you have the usual roustabouts which includes Stallone the maker,Stratham, Jet Li,Dolph,Arny and Terry Crews, this time you have what feels like another dozen added, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Ronda Rousey, Wesley Snipes….

If you once had a career or can fight and would like to get into the movies, Stallone and the Expendables gravy train is right up your street.

I may sound like a hater of this film but I still enjoyed the 80’s style action sequences and porno type delivery of the witty one liners, it just felt like a little too much, like when organizing a small party for people who you like, before you know it the word has got out and every Dick & Harry is turning up, before you know it the party is out of hand and no one ends up having any fun.

Ford, Gibson and Snipes were nice inclusions but to add another half a dozen makes this popcorn movie feel contrived if that’s possible in a film like this, the explanation is that Stallone took his finger off the quality control and just said when some flaky agent begged him to put their client in the film,Ahhhh Fuck it, go on then! no one will notice, or care. ( BetterthanIMDB cares Sly 🙂 )

Worst installment of the 3 so far, I am sure he will make another but time to scale it back Sly.




The Amazing Spider Man 2 (2014) Movie Review; Not so!

Let me start by saying that I loved ”The Amazing Spider man (The 1st one) it seemed to treat the viewer with more intelligence and the film seemed aimed more at the immature adult and not 8 year olds, you have the action and the charming & beautiful Emma stone and the rest was history.

Roll on a year or so and everything good about this set up has gone down the pan, the relationship between hairy legs and Emma Stone has become incredibly annoying, they both love each other but can’t be together because of the awkward lives they live, not exactly an exciting road to go down, this story line really drags the film down to what seems like a snail pace, every so often you are reminded that you are watching a Spider man film, but then annoyingly this dull romance keeps appearing.

This Spider Man seems very cocksure of himself, there is an arrogance to his performance that is not likeable at times.

Jamie Foxx was interesting, but with the lame story line in general you find yourself yearning for the end to come.

Really disappointed.




The Faces of Love (2014) Movie Review; I really enjoyed this film, fresh story,great acting!

It’s not very often you watch a film now day’s and the story is completely fresh and original and the actors have you on the edge of your seat without the need for bullets flying through the air or cars falling off a cliff!

The wonderful Annette Bening (American Beauty) plays a window who cannot stop thinking about her dead husband of five years, until one day she see’s a man who is his double, the emotions and moral conflicts are clear right from the start but as the story unfolds you squirm and wriggle along with the lead actress which is a true testament to Annette Benings performance.

Ed Harris brings his classic Mr Nice guy persona to the screen and is a delight for every second he is on it.



The Boys of Abu Ghraib (2014) Movie Review; An interesting insight to American torture.

This film shows an insight into the torture that took place in Iraq.

I enjoyed this film for its independent point of view, a lot of American based film tend to fly the flag high and proud and ignore the oppositions point of view, this film has two pull factors –

1, It shows a journey of a man joining the army but struggling to find anyone to fight.

2, It shines a light on the torture dished out by the Americans in the prison camps set up to keep the terrorists of the world at bay.

The film takes you full circle and leaves the conclusion in your hands, its a brave move but an ideal way to leave this thought-provoking film.



Sabotage (2014) Movie Review; By far the best Schwarzenegger film since he came out of retirement!

I entered into this film expecting a rip off of the ”Expendables” or just another post politics poor Arnie film, instead I got a decent popcorn movie with half a brain.

This is by far Arnie’s best movie since he came out of retirement, the writing is believable along with Arnie’s role, you are kept guessing til the end and actually give a dam about the conclusion.

Along with the above you also have a great cast surrounding the big man which includes, Sam Worthington, (Lost’s) Josh Holloway, Terrence Howard and the intimidating Joe Manganiello.

The brains behind the film are the same people who made ”End of Watch & ”Training Day” which are both classics, I am not saying this film is a masterpiece but it certainly bypassed my expectations.



Interesting facts –

According to director David Ayer, Sabotage was heavily cut by the studio in favor of delivering more of an action based film rather than a mystery thriller. The original cut of Sabotage was rumored to be close to 3 hours.

The Beastie Boys, Mike D and Adam Horovitz, turned down a request to use their 1994 song “Sabotage” in promos for the film. In his will, Adam Yauch prohibited the use of his music in advertisements.



The Four Minute Mile & Heaven is for Real (2014) Movie Reviews

The Four minute mile –

There are many things you can do in four minutes, running a mile would be low on my list, so would watching this film again, if you break it down you have the essence of Rocky transferred into a movie about running, you have a kid (Kelly Blatz) who while looks convincing as a runner but failed to withdraw emotion from me with the rest of his performance.

Now if you are talking about a performance, look no further than Richard Jenkins, he plays the burnt out drunk with a love of running and knowledge of the sport, more than anything he brings a sense of realism to the film, he is so good in this film that he makes everyone else look permanently stationary, he embodies hurt, depression and happiness in just a few looks, he has honed his craft so well that he makes it look easy.

As for the film, I feel let down by it, it’s a very slow introduction, a somewhat interesting middle and a terrible ending, fans of Richard Jenkins should tune in for him, but as a film itself I would not recommend.




Heaven is for Real

I went into this with an open mind, and came out of it hating this preachy piece of shit, it’s based on a true story (much like the bible 🙂 )

A kid doesn’t die on an operating theater but apparently visits heaven while he is asleep, if it wasn’t for Greg Kinnear I would have turned off half way through, but I thought, Greg is a man with dignity, he would not take on a preachy God film unless there was some balance to the film that asked a lot of open questions about faith and life, A BIG X for those possibilities I am afraid .

The film offers nothing but a shovel full of God & Heaven down your throat, the evidence they have, is based on the little boy telling them that Jesus has got a new hair cut and that he has met his sister who died when her mother miscarried years before he was born.

I am sure all the Cristian families will be playing this film from morning til night in the vain hope that their children will carry on the loose word of God, unfortunately for them, that is what this film was designed for, to say it was a coincidence that this happened to the preacher of the local church is beyond me, I think he should move into advertising and publicity full-time based purely on the fact that he managed to get this film made and continue the great lie that is religion.

I am going to make a film next year called; Santa, he is real!




Calvery (2014) Movie Review; A solid Irish film without the cliche’s!

The star of the film ( Brendan Gleeson) is a joy to watch, it’s amazing how some actors bring a sense of comfort with their performance, he has the likability factor that you would only reserve for a favourite grandad or uncle, so to pierce to screen and make such an impact on his audience is purely a magical.

The film has an interesting story but gambles on a cast of Irish actors, some well known, some not known at all, when a director casts TV actors they can ruin the whole balance of a film because you slowly attach their faces to the work they are known for, also with the Irish characters in films they are normally horribly cliche, ( Drunk,silly & stupid) that is why this film must go down as a success, each character is well developed and original.

The premise of the film – Brendan plays a priest who when listening to a strangers sins is suddenly told that he has one week to live, he is told to get his affairs in order before he will be murdered.

Solid film.