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Calf Tear - Pre-ski exercise recommendations?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
So... It has been a whilst since logging in to Snowheads but having been summoned by a necro-post on a different thread I realised it would be great to get a bit of expert perspective!

I managed to tear my calf muscle fairly badly (2+ or partial 3, depending upon who you talk to) whilst skiing in Niseko last January. I am 'recovered' in terms of risk of further injury - and imagine I have been for most of the last 6 months - but I am not confident on what it would feel like whilst skiing, or how to prepare for that.

With the Pandemic and various life events (birth of our lovely little daughter in November) I have been poor at doing intensive physio, but am now thinking ahead. This year will be a skiing write off due to travel restrictions and the little one (the first year we wont have skied for more than a decade), but I am keen to get back on skis asap.

We are also keen to get our little one out on some skis as soon as possible, and I want to be able to feel safe and well in control whilst with her.

In recent years I have very much felt my calves doing a lot of the work in my skiing - which an instructor told me was a good thing - but that makes me a little nervous in what it might actually feel like skiing again.

Are there any particular exercises for a ski-fit calf recovery people can recommend? Or any tests that I can have a go at at home to give me a sense of how my leg might feel once back on the snow?

Also, my calf is a bit of a weird shape now, so do I need to get some extra padding for my boots? (is it an excuse to get new boots?? Very Happy )

Thanks in advance
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I have no idea whether the normal regime of strengthening/stretching/trigger point rolling, is suitable or needs modified for your rehab.

What has the Physio recommended?

If you haven't seen a Physio, can you have a phone call with one (or a Doctor, or whoever assessed your injury) and ask what you should (and shouldn't) do.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@Pynch, if you want a zoom or what's app with an excellent physio I can highly recommend jon who owns chelmsford physio, or his colleague Brad who is Max Verstappen's physio. Both are sports orientated and get excellent results
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Thanks both - I had fairly intensive physio (I went to a physio directly off the mountain) and then had a lot in the early stages when at home which I kept up remotely during the first part of last year. 

I didn't get as far as a ski specific assessment as the idea was I would go in for that when they could assess me in person. I am still planning to do this when that is allowed.

To be honest the fact that my calf is now such a different shape to the other still sort of freaks me out a bit, so I guess I am mostly wondering if anyone else has had this kind of injury and if there was anything significantly different once they got back on snow?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I've done the same, and yes my calf is now a different shape to the other. When I did it I couldn't walk properly for weeks, but could ski on it after a couple of days.

I had a LOT of physio to break down the mass of scar tissue deep in the calf and it hurt. If they try to use ultrasound to break it down, go somewhere else.

I still warm my legs up and stretch the calf at least three times a week.

I only noticed it once afterwards and that was while skiing; well when falling off! I had a very slight tear which I masked with painkillers until the trip finished, then back for a bit more pain when i got home.
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I had a grade 2 tear of my right calf a few years back. It hurt a surprising amount and I was non weight bearing for roughly six weeks. It sucked.

My right calf now looks like it has butt cleavage running down the middle. This is entirely cosmetic and I cannot feel any difference in performance relative in the left relative to the right. I did not have physio after having it done (long story but, basically, money issues) but after damaging another body part I had someone do ultrasound on both and the calf seems to have healed well.

Personal lessons. Have the physio, I got lucky. More generally, I have found stretching and non weight bearing exercise, especially swimming, as good for this sort of thing.

Lessons skiing wise. Stretching the calf helps a lot. Also watch the interaction between a tight calf muscle and boot set up. What did me in the first place was having too much foward lean in the boot such that the muscle was stretched and just snapped when the left ski hit the right calf pretty hard (hit avalanche debris at speed and spun).

Basically, do what they tell you, look at your equipment and get fitter. I had roughly the same problem and experienced a full recovery despite being lazy and being biomechanically unsuited to skiing.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Quote:

My right calf now looks like it has butt cleavage running down the middle

This thread is useless without pictures....

Just a thought on stretching - make sure you target both the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles. I do both whilst cleaning my teeth with an electric toothbrush which buzzes every 30 seconds.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I do single leg raises to my tiptoes in time to my toothbrush, agree with Pam.
For stretching a wedge is great as you have to do it for a long time and people often can't tolerate it. Build a toe up wedge out of a log or you can buy a plantar fasciitis stretching wedge off Amazon etc
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You probably need to do single calf raises to build up strength, but, proceed with caution

Start with double calf raises, work up to 20 or 30, then go to single, and proceed very slowly, they can really tighten up your calves and this really is not good. Literally add 1 rep every 2 weeks or so once it starts getting tough. Stretch hell out if it for rest if day and next. Do these twice per week.

Also can you run? I think if you can run 10k no problem you won't have problem skiing. You should build up but again progress very slowly and only run on pancake flat. Don't run day after calf raises

Main take home point is progress very slowly and leave them alone if they are tight, as you are unfortunately very at risk of re-tear from skiing, running, or calf raise
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
I would think having a fairly stiff ski boot would give you good protection. I know a guy who ruptured his Achilles tendon because his rental boots had too much flex.
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I'd suggest single leg calf-raises over a full range of motion (stand on a step to allow full extension), and have something to hold onto if you need help with balance or to take the weight off. Doing single leg's will give a pretty good idea how your injured leg is compared to the other.

I'd also suggest calf-activation exercises before you exercise (though I'm not sure how practical this is before skiing). One I do is 6 x slow extension (~8 seconds) with faster (~4 seconds) raise on each leg, and for each muscle (gastrocnemius and the soleus, which you can do with one set with a fairly straight knee, and the other with a bent knee)

And stretching. Ideally every day (or almost every day), something like 2 x 30 secs for each muscle and each leg, and also soon after exercise

I'm not so sure about running. I've had various calf issues (grades 1 and 2 tears, some Achilles issues), and would often re-tweak something soon after starting running. It might be my impatience, but it feels relatively high risk; that said, I'm currently running more than I have for years
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Thanks for all the insight.

Quote:

Also watch the interaction between a tight calf muscle and boot set up.


I would love to blame my boots being too soft for my initial injury (perhaps partially true) but it was certainly me being an idiot in the main and doing a stupid thing directly after lunch before warming up again. I was planning to get a full boot fitting / test before going again (if I can afford it) to stop me worrying too much.

Quote:

Also can you run? I think if you can run 10k no problem you won't have problem skiing. You should build up but again progress very slowly and only run on pancake flat. Don't run day after calf raises


I haven't tried running yet, I have never been much of a runner and used to get shin splints and knee issues when I did do it semi-regularly 5+ years ago so I have been pretty cautious because of any knock on effects from the impact. I am more of a cyclist anyway, but being honest I have also been a bit squeamish about getting back on my bike as well - partly as this may have caused my calves to be tight / bunched up in the first place. The pandemic has given me a great excuse not to get on my bike, so that is probably going to be my first test of real endurance.

I was doing one legged calf raises a lot at the beginning but have been lax. I also need to up doing that 'from negative' which is harder to do whilst cleaning my teeth but is certainly something I need to get on with.

Whilst I had v. good physio care at the beginning, I was warned to focus on active stretching only (i.e. not toe touches) I am not sure if that is still the case, but will probably still try to be quite careful on that front.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Quote:

I also need to up doing that 'from negative' which is harder to do whilst cleaning my teeth

I can't do calf raises whilst cleaning my teeth - I would Laughing just dribble down my front. And my calf stretches rely on being able to lean with one arm against the wall behind the basin.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:


I would think having a fairly stiff ski boot would give you good protection. I know a guy who ruptured his Achilles tendon because his rental boots had too much flex


Yes. There is an almost limitless range of ways in which ski equipment can hurt you.

Quote:

I would love to blame my boots being too soft for my initial injury (perhaps partially true) but it was certainly me being an idiot in the main and doing a stupid thing directly after lunch before warming up again. I was planning to get a full boot fitting / test before going again (if I can afford it) to stop me worrying too much.


Yes. I found the movement from a boot with 20 degrees of forward lean to one with 12 degrees to make a massive difference. I was no longer forcing the calf to stretch simply by virtue of being in the boot. Addition of a 2mm heel lift and it's not quite like wearing slippers but it's the closest I'm going to get.

That said, equipment can stop you skiing well but it can't make you ski better.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:

That said, equipment can stop you skiing well but it can't make you ski better.


Amen.

(Or give you better judgement)
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@Pynch, just looking at what @viv said about running, I think he/she is right, running is very strenuous on the calves, if it's not your thing maybe best not to do it, it will give high risk of re-injury.

I think cycling should be fine, not too strenuous on calves, just stop and stretch the hell out of them if they are tightening
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I went through a period of calf strains every year whenever I started training for basketball season. From memory, the physio started me with two footed calf raises, building up to one footed. Then once you’re comfortable you’re getting stronger, do sets of 30 secs hopping/bouncing on two feet, then progress to alternate foot to foot hopping, the finally one footed hopping. Build that up to two minutes over time. Only then was I allowed to start gentle jogging - starting off doing 30 secs run/ 30 secs walk, and slowly build up.

I wouldn’t rush it, several times I overdid it, and the muscle went again - you’re back to square one. These were only grade 1 / low grade 2, and the physio still said to expect a three-four month recovery time to properly get strength back - otherwise you risk reoccurrence.

[the physiotherapy was a bitch - I hate needles, but opted for acupuncture, as the myofascial release was excruciating - the closest I’ve got to getting off the table]


Last edited by Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person on Wed 10-02-21 12:10; edited 1 time in total
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Get a bicycle and get out on it at every opportunity, the actions for riding build and gently stretch the muscles and help them build. My physio advised this and I followed the advice with a daily bike ride for several months (it was summer) apart from occasionally getting cramp in that leg I have had no problems since.
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