Repetitive Strain Injury/Right Calf Strain

Advertisement


Question
Hi, Julie,

I had a right calf strain and I stayed largely immobile for a few weeks, as I received advice from my medical providers to "stay off it" until it heals! My leg muscles atrophied somewhat, so I had to do intense PT strengthening and stretching my upper and lower legs in order to start walking again. It worked pretty well, and three to four months into it, I was walking up to an hour every day and doing exercises another hour per day. But I was not able to drive right, even then. My strain felt like a painful band vertical to my leg, and in the middle of my calf. It was painful to drive, so I avoided driving properly, under the theory that it would spasm.  

And then it did spasm for three weeks, and after that I restrained it again and again (or so it felt). I did several additional weeks of Gabron stretching and ART which seemed to help from time to time, but did not seem to have a definite improvement my driving. My new doctors say that I should be driving through the pain, and walking through the pain as well, because my calves have shortened and they need to be stretched. I also do stretching and massage, but there is no definite help! It is seven months now since the original injury! It is easier to walk, and the pain does not start until much later. But when driving, the pain starts immediately and can be very  penetrating, right in the middle of my calf.    

My question to you is: 1) do you agree that I should be walking and driving despite the pain (within reason) because that is the way to healing?, 2) what else should I do to make it better?, and 3) how long does it take in your experience for such an injury to eventually heal? It seems that after 7 months I am going backwards!    

Thanks!

CJ

Answer
Hi CJ,

The fact that stretching and ART helped occasionally, tells me that we'll be able to work together to resolve this issue.  I am a licensed massage therapist, and as such I can't advise for or against your physician's advice, I can only tell you my point of view.  

It has been my experience that rest frequently doesn't cause the spasms to release. Also, I feel that continuing to do the movements that shorten the calf muscles including driving and walking, will only make the problem worse.  

As far as stretching, it is important to release the spasms first, and then stretch. Consider this analogy: if you have a length of rope that is 12" long, and you tie enough knots into it that it is now 11" long, and then you try to stretch it back to 12" again, you have made the knots tighter and overstretched the fibers on either side of the knot.  In the body, the two ends of the "rope," (muscle) are attached to a bone. Stretching the tight muscle without releasing the spasm can possibly tear muscle fibers, and put a strain on the bones on either end. However, when you release the spasms first, and then stretch, you will have success.

If you go to http://www.FlexibleAthlete.com you can read why repetitive movements, such as driving, will cause muscles to go into spasm.  To release the spasm you apply direct pressure on the knot, and then hold it for 30-60 seconds. I've worked with thousands of people over the past 26 years, and I've seen chronic pain disappear by simply treating the muscle spasms FIRST, and then stretching.  I believe it will work for you too!

Wishing you well,
   Julie Donnelly  

Repetitive Strain Injury

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Julie Donnelly, LMT

Expertise

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!

Experience

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.

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

Education/Credentials
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: http://www.FlexibleAthlete.com and http://www.julstro.com. I currently treat people in my offices in Sarasota, FL, Cary, NC, or Pearl River, NY

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.