The last week my left calf muscle has been bothering me. It was really tight when I ran so I made sure to stretch it more after my workout. I stopped running and tried biking and the elliptical instead, which was fine, there was no pain from doing those. I thought ok, it might be shin splints, or maybe I need to stretch and warm up/cool down better. I know what shin splints feels like, I've had that. I've also had IT band syndrome. I know what both of those feel like when running and this was not either.
So finally yesterday after trying to run on the track I felt a familiar tightness creep up into my calf ten minutes in. It gets progressively worse as I continue so I stopped immediately and in twenty minutes the tightness was gone and I was fine, almost like nothing was wrong! This was definitely NOT shin splints!
So I did my own Google research and read all the familiar sites that I used to self diagnose the last two times. (I haven't been wrong yet!) But I ALWAYS go see my doctor regardless because really....the internet isn't the best choice for diagnosing something haha. But here's what I found:
The symptoms somewhat related to just a plain old tight calf muscle. Easy enough to fix with rest and ice and proper stretching. My symptoms also match a few other problems, but I don't think it's a strain because the pain isn't continuous, it goes away twenty minutes after I stop. There's also some relation between my tight calf and tennis leg, but not much. Then I came across Compartment Syndrome. (even sounds scary). Here are the symptoms:
Pain which increases during exercise which eventually makes running impossible.
Pain goes after a short rest but comes back again during exercise.
Difficulty in lifting the toes and foot up.
Pain when pulling the toes and foot downwards.
The last two don't apply to me but the first two points nail it! I'm not going to write all about this syndrome, it involves some terminology I can't put into my own words but basically the sheath around the muscle can't expand so your muscle is kind of trapped. It's usually caused by sports with repetitive motion like running. The thing that's freaking me out is that I haven't found a lot about fixing this problem. The constant in everything I've read so far is surgery! They make a cut in the sheath so the muscle can expand, but before that delightful process they do a test that measures the compartment pressure and to do that a needle goes into your muscle. Yeah....NOT HAPPENING!
I know what everyone wants to say "you don't know yet, you need to talk to your doctor first, it might just be a tight calf...ect..."
Well I HOPE it's just a tight calf!! But I haven't been wrong yet. I knew exactly what I was going to be told when I went in for shin splints, and a year later when I went in for my IT band. And I did go see the doctor yesterday! Although I wasn't able to see my regular doctor, I saw another one at the same clinic. I'll just be frank, he was useless. He measured my calves to see if there was swelling told me to warm up better in the future and as an after thought gave me a handful of muscle relaxants without even telling me when to take them. Good thing I googled that later cuz I didn't know they caused drowsiness having never taken them. I tried asking him more questions because really, I hadn't just ran for ten minutes so my calf wasn't even tight! He didn't tell me what I could do in the present time to help myself, only that I need a better warm up. Thankfully I have a follow up with my regular doctor on the 7th.
But in the between time I'm panicking, and thinking about this waaaay to much, but if I do have this stupid syndrome then I hope physio will help me out, because I hate the thought of surgery! I went for a deep tissue massage after that pointless doctors appointment and I haven't ran for a few days now. I wish that doctor had told me what was wrong and not just dismissed it as a cramp or something. But then, maybe it is just a cramp and I need to calm the F down. But also, I know my body and what I'm feeling when I run and it just doesn't seem right. It's sooo frustrating!!! I don't know what to do!