Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Torn Calf Muscle

About 4 weeks ago, the little league baseball season was wrapping up, and we held our end of the season team party at a park close by. Around 6:00 pm, after everyone had eaten their fill, we held a parents vs. kids whiffle ball game. No gloves, no helmets - just one whiffle ball and one big plastic orange bat.

After crushing the ball in my first at bat (batting opposite to try and even the odds a bit), I approached my second at bat with something resembling a smidgen of over confidence. Oh, how the proud are laid low!

I hit the pitch offered, and started down towards first. I am still unsure of the exactly what happened. All I do know is that it felt as if someone with a real baseball bat smashed my right calf muscle, and I gimped up immediately, barely making it to first on one leg, being put out at first.

I could barely walk for the next 24 hours, and things didn't start really improving for another 2 to 3 days. By the end of the week, I noticed my right foot was swollen, so I bit the bullet and made an appointment to see the doctor. After 15 minutes and a $30 co-pay, my doc cheerfully told me that I had described a text-book muscle tear, hitting the nail on the head with the "hit like a bat" description.

He massaged my calf seductively, and said that while he couldn't actually feel the tear (which was a good thing), it seemed to be fairly high up on the muscle (also a good thing). If the tear is lower, where there is less muscle to tear, then at times it is necessary to cast the lower leg. So, he said that like Woody Williams of the San Diego Padres (who tore his left calf muscle running the bases a few weeks before I did), I was on the "DL" for 4 - 6 weeks, and to try to take it easy.

Later that day I took my son to The Wave Waterpark, and stupidly tried to ride the Flow - rider wave machine, and tweaked the hell out of my calf again. Stupid me. After another 5 days of pain, it started getting better.

So here I am, roughly 4 weeks after the injury, and things are looking up. I went surfing last Thursday and today, with not too many issues. I'm taking it easy, while still trying to exercise it a bit to prevent too much muscle atrophy. Hopefully in another 2 weeks I'll be back to 100%.


  1. Aw, getting old SUCKS! Next we'll be breaking fingers from typing :(

  2. I never used to warm up or stretch and just found out they are two different things. My calf muscle did not pop but I felt it tear... gross.I hope that this means it is not that bad. What do you think?

  3. beachbabe,

    It's tough to diagnose over the internet, so I'd recommend you see your doc as soon as possible.

    Take a look at this other posting of mine: Torn Calf Muscle Redux to see my second encounter with a torn calf muscle, and there are many others who have commented on their own injuries, what happened, what the symptoms were, etc.

    Good luck!

  4. Alan, So helpful thank you. It was exactly what I was looking for but I need to ask you a question. I think I have a grade 2 tear. they are telling me 6 weeks to recover. I was playing basketball and was going up for a layup, and I thought 2 things either someone brought a snake into the gym and it bit my calf, or someone just kicked the crap out of me. My greatest concern is not about playing basketball soon, but surfing. I'm on the right coast and it's hurricane season and the waves are about to get good, Fall is our season. I already know I'm going to miss this weeks 7-8 footers but it's Sept that I'm worried about. I have a trip planned for the 2nd week of Sept and right now, 5 days later, I'm not feeling to good. Should I cancel, I'm still 25 days out? How or when did you know or feel that you could surf again?

  5. Tough call, Anon! In my post, it looks like I waited about 4 weeks until I tried surfing again, and I am sure that was during a weak swell period. Also, I'm not sure what grade tear I had, as the doc didn't say - he only mentioned that it looked like I wouldn't need surgery.

    I'd probably play it safe and cancel the trip. Most docs will advise at least 4-6 weeks of rest and recovery, and then there is the time it will take you to get back into paddling shape.

    Whatever you do, don't do anything too soon or you risk injuring yourself again, making things worse than they already are.

    Let us know what you do, and good luck!

  6. Well Alan I did go surfing on week 4 -28 days after the tear. Held up fine on 5/6 foot waves. What I found is that trying to push off to get back on the board to paddle back out, off of the sand, was slightly painful, but no pain when getting up on the board or while riding.

    I'm in week 5 now and have been doing PT (after week 2) 1 or 2 x's a week. I just started to lightly jog today. I really believe the turning point for me is when they took me off the crutches and gave me a boot instead. This was about a week after the injury. I went back in to see a different Doc and he was so surprised they didn't put me in a boot to start. I saw fast improvement and strength with that rather than the crutches. Thank goodness I did that because I wasn't scheduled to go back in until week 4. I just found it odd that they told me I would be off crutches after 4 days and at that point I could still hardly stand.

    So I have been able to golf and surf before the "6" week time frame, but I can tell it will be at least another 6 weeks before playing hoops again. That explosive move, just like digging the foot in the sand to spring back on the board, or jumping motion is just not there yet.

    Doing the PT helps a lot, especially if you do it every day on your own. I would say I'm 70-80%, but I can feel that last little bit to get back to normal is going to take awhile. I have a 6 week evaluation next week so we will see what happens.