Repetitive Strain Injury/Calf injury/Muay Thai



Iím writing to see if you can help me with a calf injury that has been ongoing for almost seven months. Iíve tried a lot of different treatments but my calf just will not heal and I donít know what to do. My Google searches have created more confusion than resolution ó there are so many schools of thought about icing/heating, the type of exercise that I can do with the injury (swimming/elliptical/stationary bike), stretching verses not stretching, etc. In addition, after reading many online articles and discussions on calf injuries, I now donít even know what kind of injury I have. I thought it was a calf strain (micro tears in the calf muscles) but maybe itís not.

The injury started in May. I was in a Muay Thai kickboxing class doing pad work. After I did a few roundhouse kicks (which involves raising up on the ball of your foot and pivoting), I had to stop because my calf got so tight that I couldnít even walk on it. I iced it and stayed off of it for a few days. It got better so I went back to my normal routine of running on the treadmill for 30 minutes and taking a muay thai class or kettlebell class. I hurt it again Ė ran on the treadmill one night and the next day I felt like I couldnít walk without pain (September). After that, I stopped doing roundhouse kicks and running but continued to do the elliptical and did muay thai without the roundhouse kicks (mainly boxing). As well, I started physical therapy. It seemed to get a little better but still hurt so I stopped the boxing about a month ago and just did the elliptical, kettelebell, and swimming freestyle. But it just wonít stop hurting. My physical therapist has me off of all exercise now. I canít tell if itís getting better. Iíve taken off for five days so far but it still hurts.

Most of the pain is along the outside upper calf area Ė muscles that run along outside of calf from knee down to heel. Itís definitely tight so massage feels good. The pain is sort of throbbing and sometimes burns.

Iím trying to figure out what to do next. I am so frustrated and am really scared that Iím never going to be able to do muay thai or run again. Will you let me know if you think your method could help with my injury?

Thanks so much for your time.
Kind regards,

Hi Michelle,

I've worked with thousands of athletes and I've seen that many times chronic calf spasms aren't actually being caused by the calf muscles, but is actually the end-result of a list of other muscles that are causing your pelvis to press up into the sciatic nerve.  When there is a sciatic nerve impingement the calf spasms.  You work on the calf muscles (using massage, etc.) and/or rest, and it feels better for a short time. However, as soon as you begin to exercise again, it starts to hurt again.  Your explanation of the problem you're having makes be believe that this is what is happening to you when your calf chronically spasms.

It will help if you first go to and read all the information about repetitive strain injuries that is on the Home Page, including the sections titled "Muscles and Pain" and "What's Happening Exactly."  Then if you go to you can read about each of the muscles involved in rotating your pelvis and causing the pressure on your sciatic nerve.  

Please feel free to come back and we can continue this discussion if you have more questions after reading the information above.

Wishing you well,
   Julie Donnelly

Repetitive Strain Injury

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Julie Donnelly, LMT


I can accept questions that relate to chronic or acute pain caused by muscle spasms and contractions. Repetitive Strain Injury is actually Cumulative Trauma to muscles. Releasing the spasm &/or contraction will relieve the strain that is felt at the insertion point on the bone. I am the co-developer of the unique safe-stretching program "Focused Flexibility Training," which combines easy instruction for self-treating spasms throughout your body with proven yoga stretches. I have recently authored two new books: "The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution," and "The Secret to Your Best Golf Game EVER!


Since 1989 I have been working with endurance athletes and individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions. I have authored seven self-treatment books and three self-treatment DVDs and I have developed the Julstro System for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, Trigger Finger, and other Hand/Wrist pain. I am a national and international presenter at conventions, seminars, and workshops. Principle topics are "Work Shouldn't Hurt," and "The Pain Free Athlete." In 2005 and 2006 I was the massage therapist for ultracyclists competing in the Race Across America (RAAM) 3000+ mile race from San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ. I've taught the Julstro techniques to physical therapists at the Cleveland Clinic, to massage therapists in areas around the USA, and I've taught Julstro self-treatment clinics to dancers at Juilliard School of Performing Arts (NYC),the sprinting team at NC State, and I am working closely with several Olympic-hopeful. We have successfully eliminated the repetitive strain injuries that could keep them out of the Olympic Games, and the best part is they know how to do the self-treatments so they can stay pain-free and flexible.

Triathlete Magazine, Endurance Magazine, multiple national and international trade journals.

Swedish Institute of Allied Health, NY, NY - Initial education in massage therapy Licensed NYS Massage Therapist since 1989. SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY - B.Sc. degree in Interdisciplinary Health Education I was an Associate Professor helping to develop the massage training program for SUNY Rockland Community College

Past/Present Clients
Privacy prevents me from filling in this section without prior consent from my clients. Life Experience: I have been specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries since receiving my NY massage license in 1989. A personal bout with carpal tunnel syndrome was the catalyst to my developing a self-treatment that heals the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome quickly and without surgery. My work with endurance athletes was the inspiration to teach people how to self-treat so they could stop pains even during a race or heavy training day. Both of these situations ultimately became the products that are sold on my websites: and I currently treat people in my offices in Sarasota, FL, Cary, NC, or Pearl River, NY

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