It's been a long time since I spoke about my calf muscle so I thought I would give you an all an update.
It is over 7 and a half months since I pulled my calf muscle. In that time I have had a lot of set backs though recent developments have gave me some encouragement.
The Long Road To Recovery
I saw the Doctor when I got back from Thailand. He gave me what can only be considered terrible advice about my injury. I told him how I had tried to use the treadmill but couldn't really go faster than 2.5mph before it was hurting. His solution was to give me a pain killing gel which I was to apply to my leg in order to go through this pain barrier.
In hindsight, I should have questioned this as a few days later I did what the doctor ordered and tried to run at 2.5mph again. The result: my muscle tightened up even more and I couldn't do anything at the gym for a month or so.
He referred me to a physio, but it would be another 6 weeks or so until I saw one. I probably should have seen someone in private but since my leg was sore, I wasn't doing any training so I assumed that there was little I could do.
The physio proved to be very knowledgeable. She explained that my calf muscle had torn and it was now really tight. She also told me that instead of having one long calf muscle like a regular person would have, I have calf muscle tissue, scar tissue and then calf muscle tissue. (and noticed an indent where the injury was too).
When I asked her about how this effects me long term she explained that I will always have a problem with this in some shape or form, i.e. my muscle will never be as strong as it was. Though she said that I would be able to get back to a level where I can train or even compete, which was great news.
Stretching is Key
She told me off a few times for some bad habits. For example, when I was sitting my right foot was always raised up so only the ball of the foot was on the ground. I natrually did this because my muscle had contracted. She advised me to keep my foot on the floor, which sounds easy but believe me, doing this for a week was incredibly painful.
She gave me a stretching routine to follow and after a few weeks, she advised that I didn't have to see her again. She told me to just take things slowly and to keep stretching the muscle and if it flared up again, book an appointment.
After another week or so of daily stretching I went to a local football park and ran around for about a mile. The next door everything was sore : my calf was sore but so were my feet, quads, hamstrings etc. It had been 6 months since I had used these muscles so clearly they were weak. About 4 or 5 days later I went out for a run, running just under 3 miles in total. My fitness wasn't too bad but again, my legs were sore at the end. Although my legs were hurting, I was encouraged that I could run this distance (albeit at an incredibly slow pace).
I went for another run a week later. However, I had to stop after a mile because my calf was so sore. A few days later I was down in London for my birthday (Celtic were playing in the Wembley Cup) and as a result of walking around so much, my calf was hurting like mad. At the end of the Saturday night I was limping, not a good development.
I realised at this point that running on hard surfaces might not be the best way to get back into training, though one of the reasons I was running was because the gym was closed for a month for renovations.
Developing the Muscle
When the gym opened back up I started using the cross trainer. I stretched before using it, stopped during it and stretched and made sure I stretched afterwards. A few weeks later and my calf is starting to feel a helluva lot stronger. It still tightens up after exercising so I still need to stretch a lot, but I have been really pleased with how it is progressing.
The new gym also has a punch bag so twice in the last week I have been able to do some light kicking and punching. Yesterday I managed about 30 minutes of kicking on the bag so today my calf and hamstrings are sore. I must have done too much to be this sore though I don't think I have set my recovery back in any way.
Today I did an hour and a half of jujitsu with my mate Ali (who's also my Taekwondo instructor). I was reluctant to do any grappling before incase I landed funny and aggravated my calf but it seems to be fine. So I'm going to start grappling every now and again.
Hopefully, within the next month I can go back to Taekwondo and do some light training. Once I'm back to normal I'd love to do some Muay Thai again a few times a week.
I need to take my time though and not rush it. It's very easy to think that everything is back to normal and then mess things up. Although i need to exercise to develop my muscle, there's a fine line between developing it and tearing it again. So I will have to be patient.
On a side note, because I didn't train for months (or even walk anywhere), I've put on more than a stone since coming back from Thailand. I'll be able to lose this very quickly if my calf allows me to continue to train. Fingers crossed.
Fat boy signing off!