Friday, July 19, 2013

Rupture...Tear...Pop...Not an athlete's favorite terms.

Now that I've experienced this twice, I'm going to share what I've learned:

Climb in your Way Back Machine to December 2007.  I was running down a short flight of stairs and felt a startling *pop* in the back of my leg.  I nearly crumpled.  I suddenly couldn't walk.  I thought it was the charley horse from Hell. I attacked it with massage, vigorous stretching, and applied heat packs. For four days it was excruciating. When I finally hobbled into the doctor's office, he correctly diagnosed my injury as a ruptured plantaris tendon, but all that was left was to patiently wait for it to stop hurting. I didn't know that I should have iced it -- that would have been most helpful immediately following the injury.  It took two to three weeks before I could attend ballet class comfortably.

This time, when I felt the familiar rubber-band snap at the base of my calf (during a warm-up run before my wod), I knew exactly what it was. I could walk on my toes, or on my heels, but rolling through the foot caused blinding pain deep in my calf. Apparently, though the injury is rare, it is mostly seen in "older athletes". (I'm going to focus on the "athlete" part of that description.)  I rested my leg, but I didn't baby it. I still worked out, just not with movements that required rolling through the foot (squats, pull-ups, sit-ups). I sat with my feet up and iced my leg. No stretching, massage, or heat packs. I biked several miles. I walked -- very slowly, with a limp. Two DAYS later, I'm nearly back to normal. There's slight soreness, like the light ache of a muscle that got a good workout. I can even roll up onto my toes -- carefully.  That movement is still a little uncomfortable.

The best news of all: this can never happen to me again. The plantaris tendon doesn't grow back, and unlike the Achilles tendon, you can get along fine without it. There's only one in each leg, and now both of mine are gone. What a relief!