How to treat a torn calf for a fast recovery
For any athlete being healthy is the foundation for a good preparation, good recovery and good performance. Part of the equation of being healthy is staying injury free.
One of the most uncomfortable injuries is the torn calf. A torn calf does not only put a hurdle in your training plans, but it also can affect day to day activities, since walking becomes very painful.
I have injured my calf twice and the last time I achieve the fastest recovery I could have expected. Recovery time from injury to first run = 9 days.
I will share step by step what I did to accomplish this.
1) As soon as you "suspect" you torn your calf, stop, and do not stretch. The "stop" portion is the easy part, since you will not be able to walk and the pain will be such, you will be cursing or crying. And again, do not stretch at that point.
2) Apply ice as soon as possible. This is one of the most important steps in your recovery. I would recommend that for the next 4 days you apply ice (religiously) every 2 hrs for a period no longer than 15 minutes. Blood flow to the injured area is the most important factor in recovery, since all the required nutrients and building blocks are carried in your blood. By applying ice to your injured area, you help control the inflammation and increase blood flow.
After you are finished with your 15 minutes of ice, gently massage your calf, with the only purpose of help some more blood moving into the area.
You can do this while at work. This is what I did: I took an ice pack and an elastic bandage. put the ice on my calf and secure it with the elastic bandage, after the 15 minutes were over I would put back the ice pack in the fridge, and then I would repeat the process throughout the day.
3) Drink plenty of water and eat properly. It is important that your body has all the right nutrients through the day (proteins, minerals and vitamins) all those building blocks are necessary to rebuild your injured muscle. Water is going to be the carrying agent (along with your blood) delivering the building material and eliminating what has to be eliminated.
4) Stay fit. The number 1 preoccupation an athlete has, is not being able to stick to his training program. This can be easily overcome by looking at all the options we have in order to keep our fitness. I personally used swimming and weight lifting during my injury. You can get excellent workouts that will help you keep your fitness with these activities. They Key here is: do not use your calf muscles.
5) After the 4th or 5th day your calf should feel very good, you might be able to walk normally, maybe you will feel your calf, very, very sore, but that is a good sign. At this stage what I did was to do some light stationary bike, This helped me get my calf muscles moving a little (helping with the blood flow), Do this only if you do not feel any pain. Do not get overconfident, you might have the temptation to test your calf, do not do it. Stick to your swim, lift, bike routine.
6) Massage: day 6 and 7 will probably be painful, your calf will be sore and you will feel some knots in your calf, those knots are the scar tissue created as a result of the injury and "reconstruction" of your calf. Massage your calf. It is going to hurt like hell, even a small touch might cause you a lot of pain. The purpose of this massage is to: get blood flowing through the muscle and help with the alignment of the scar tissue. Do this as often as possible through the day. At least 4 times a day, but if your pain tolerance allows you to do it more often, go for it.
7) Stretch: once you feel your muscle has healed, try to start stretching, do not over do it, go gently,
8) Apply heat to the injury, at this stage ice is not required any longer, apply some heat and continue with your gentle massage
9) day 8. Go for a bike ride, easy, no pushing, get the blood flowing
10) Go for a run!: but before you do, warm up properly, if you have a stationary bike, ride it for 10 min, then do some gentle stretching, then walk for 5 minutes and then start running at a slow pace, be very aware of your calf and how it feels, do not push it to the limits, this run is to get your confidence back. 2 or 3 miles should be doable.
after that you should be ready to ramp up your running.
I hope this help all the athletes, triathletes, runners, and normal Joes who might experience this type of injury