Calf injury that won’t get better

November 13, 2017

I’m 43 and been very very active all my life. A few changes in the last 3 years have changed my levels and types of activity but I still run and go to the gym.

I picked up a calf injury whilst training very hard for some half marathon times i was after, it was after having built up (enough i felt) from the removal of the orthotics that I had been wearing in my running shoes for the previous 7 years.

It was also about the time I started introducing more olympic lifting into my gym work in a bid to develop some posterior chain strength which i read might be a help to my running goals.

The injury stopped me in my tracks and i hobbled home form that run. That was June 2017. Since then it recovers, i stretch, and roll it and gradually reintroduce more controlled lifts in the gym (Ive stopped all explosive gym lifts) and then test it out on the treadmill for a couple of minutes after a month or so. It pulls again, it stops me in my tracks, i spend weeks
repeating the aforementioned…and so it goes on….it is now November and clearly this is not the correct course of action.

To quantify the lower meg gym stuff i do its really only compound movements like squats lunges and deadlifts. I am unable to perform calf raises or anything that involves loading on the forefoot.

I am completely despondent, have put on weight, and feel really really frustrated as i feel its been way too long….what could it be and what can i do guru PLEASE help me get my active life back…..


November 13, 2017

Hi Danielle
Frustrating stuff – let’s try to unpick a few things.

For something that stops you dead in your tracks has to be related to true tissue trauma. At some stage along the line you’ve pulled your calf.

This can happen due to an incident – I jumped over a fence or attritional – it’s the straw that breaks the camels back. On reflection I think it’s the latter.

Attritional stuff happens due to adverse/excessive load – long training for a half and should so follow that if you stop the excessive loading i.e. rest, you should get better (as the tissue heals), but you haven’t.

You’ve been doing the right strength stuff for your posterior chain but you’ve still got issue – and this ain’t right….or is it?

For me strength is never the answer. It’s really easy to get stronger – go lift more, often. But if you can’t control this strength then I think you start to run into trouble.

Unable to do a single calf raise most likely means that when you load your calf up it can’t handle the load, as it’s excessive (but you can walk around as it’s not loading to excess) so you need to look at the control around your foot (hence the orthotics, which BTW you’re right your probably don’t need) but the control bit is key.

Your calf breaks down because you can’t control your foot posture and so  the excessive load is put through the “wrong” part of your calf (inside?) and it keeps failing as you haven’t addressed the underlying control issue.

I think you need to work on control NOT strength (yet!) Unless you can control the power that your calf delivers (i.e. foot posture, femoral rotation, knee valgus and pelvic control) the same thing will happen.

You need to shift away from strength and dial into control, stability and endurance.

What’s your single leg balance like? What’s your single knee squat like?

This is key – have a look here at these glute videos

There is a really good, practical answer – you just need to (re)discover it.

The Guru

Danielle thanks the Guru:

Thankyou ever so much for taking the time to explain all of this to me. I will incorporate this into my training. I also have a stand up desk to can balance on one foot all day if needed!
Perfect – stand well. Chest up, weight through your feet, elbow bent to 90 and resting just in front of your tummy and (most importantly) screen in front of your face. 

After some days doing as the Guru prescribed:

Balance work going well. In re-reading your email and other responses you have given to people and I remembered that in spring 2016 i had a skiing accident where i ended up sliding down the piste face down feet first but with my toes in skies pointing up the piste before they snapped off. This meant my calves were over stretched and it felt like my knees had been dislocated (they hadn’t). One leg was significantly worse. I couldn’t load it for a month and couldn’t run until the autumn, thereafter building up through the winter until the issue i wrote to you about in June 2017.

You mentioned the June 2017 problems could be the straw that broke the camels back and that my kind of problem could be due to either an accident or attrition. Given this new information could it have been the skiing accident even though it was long before? If so is your prescription still the same for fixing me?

The Guru replied:

Yes – I still believe so.

The body is really good at healing itself, and despite our best endeavours to slow it down by moving poorly, an injury from 2016 (18 months ago) has to be healed by now BUT if you’re continually using it poorly then you’ve still got to expect further attritional problems.

I guess the other thing to add is if you’ve been doing stuff since then (without assistance) and it’s still not helping then it’s probably time to get someone to have a look and help you along.

The Guru

Guru Responded

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