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Daily Archives: February 20, 2012

Forefoot Running – Be Careful

In my last post in which I attempted to live blog a doctor’s visit – something that I have to imagine any author worth his salt would advise against – I came across some interesting news that should be shared on its own lest one sees the title and runs away.

I injured my calf the other evening, assuming that it was due to an increase in mileage that was greater than advisable – I jumped about 80% in a week while 10% is the standard suggested increase.  The following Saturday I dialed it back to 9.2 but the terrain was horrendously icy so it made for a hard run.  I assumed when I decided on the increase that I was more than up to the task because of the intensive biking workouts I’ve grown accustomed.

The injury occurred on my normal Thursday night 5k – on the last two tenths – when I decided to try the “forefoot strike” that has become all the rage in minimalist running.  On seeing my doctor about the injury today, I learned that the problem was not the increase (I explained everything exactly as it happened and left no detail out).  The problem was in trying to change my stride in the last leg.  I pulled my plantaris muscle, a small muscle that runs down the back of the leg in the middle of the calf and attaches to a long tendon that runs down to the Achilles (how that attaches was explained but is a little foggy at the moment).  When I changed at the end of my run to the forefoot stride, my large calf muscles were all fully functional, engaged and pumped up from the effort.  The strikes on the forefoot isolated the plantaris muscle – a muscle that is not used to being isolated during a normal heel strike stride.  It was that isolation of a very weak muscle that did me in.  This is exactly why changing, if one decides to, should be done slowly and carefully (as I’ve written about, ahem, before…”here, take my advice, I’m not using it”).


Fortunately in my case the pull is very minor.  Some stretches and an alteration of my cycling cadence should snap it back into shape in a matter of days.

Photo from the link above "Plantaris"

Live Blogging The Doctor’s Visit

It’s 4:05 – I’ve been sitting here since 3:45 for my 4:00 appointment… I realize that the first 15 minutes is on me, chalk that up to a proper upbringing – the fact that I’m late if I’m not 15 minutes early. On the other hand, why did I pick a doctor that is consistently an hour behind? The answer is obvious, it’s because he’s good, but sheesh… And the office music – it’s moments like this that I wish I carried my firing range backpack wherever I go. Air Supply to some teeny-bop girlie band to Country. Good God.

It’s 4:12 and this country song has me thinking about gnawing off my offending leg just so I can leave.

It’s 4:16 and I’m hoping that this reads more exciting than the waiting room is. S#!T – Lady Ga-Ga. I must remember the Self Evident Truths – suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Why didn’t she call herself Madonna II?

4:25. Dude, should have brought a haz-mat suit…like that one Dustin Hoffman wore in Outbreak. Still in the waiting room. I have to imagine that manscaping my butt would be more fun than this.

4:35 coming up on an hour. I’m calling this live blogging stuff off. I see sick people. If I make it out of here without a flaming case of the shits I’ll be amazed. Dammit.

4:50. BP is high – top number. Bottom is low… Son of a gun – the plantaris muscle, runs right down the middle of the calf. It was from that last tenth running on the forefoot. The problem was in the fact that the big muscles take over in a standard stride. The forefoot strike isolates that little bastard and because I wasn’t used to it, that last tenth did me in. Lesson learned.

No more days off needed! So that’s awesome news. I have several stretches to do and active recovery on the bike till it stretches back out.

My Diagnosis

I’ll be heading to see my doctor in the next day or so but I’m pretty sure I’m looking at tendonitis in the left Achilles though the pain is higher – more in the mid to upper calf and radiates down…  The pain is all too familiar though – feels fine the more I’m moving, hurts like hell when I start out…

I should have been stretching more – this would have been avoided.

In the end, the problem was most certainly a combination of the repetitiveness of motion inherent in cycling (or spinning in this case) and my jump in running mileage.

In any event, I’m certainly not a doctor so I’m definitely going in for a visit so I can get a solid treatment plan.  This is one reason that I appreciate my family doctor so much – he is fantastic with sports injuries and he concentrates on fixing the problem rather than supplying a bunch of pain meds and suggesting too much rest.  He understands how we fit freaks roll and gets us back as soon as possible.