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Matthew Jefferys

Sudden Sharp, Burning Pain After Stretching

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Matthew Jefferys

I was going about a particularly difficult hamstring stretch a few minutes ago when I suddenly felt the most intense burning sensation in my right leg. It's up on the lateral side almost near the knee. Right where the lateral gastrocnemius head and soleus tendons touch. When I try flexing my calf muscle, the outer portion of the lateral head shakes and feels a bit weak. The pain is fading fairly quickly. Have I torn muscle or connective tissue, or did I just irritate a nerve?

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Coach Sommer

... I was going about a particularly difficult hamstring stretch a few minutes ago when I suddenly felt the most intense burning sensation in my right leg ... when I try flexing my calf muscle (it) shakes and feels a bit weak ... the pain is fading fairly quickly ... have I torn muscle or connective tissue, or did I just irritate a nerve? ...

 

You have a strained/torn something.  Probably minor.   

 

1) Why were you stretching so hard in the first place?  Did this injury occur out of the blue with no warning signs?  Or were you being heroic and pushing as hard as possible despite warning signs to the contrary?

 

Mobility is gained thru consistency, not intensity.  Remember, people who stretch with the same intensity they condition, are going to get hurt.  Alot.

 

A good general rule of thumb is to always 'leave a little something in the bank' in terms of R.O.M./intensity when stretching.

 

2) Now in regards to the newly injured calf/hamstring - leave it alone.  Don't mess with it.  Don't continually 'evaluate it'; which is really secret code for how soon can I begin working it hard again.  

 

Just leave it alone and allow the calf/hamstring to rest/heal for a minimum of one to two weeks.  Ice or contrast baths (my favorite) for the first 24-48 hours are great for reducing inflammation and perceived discomfort.

 

You may work on core and upper body, but other than ice or heat; leave the legs, and particularly that calf/hamstring, alone.  

 

3) After one to two weeks you can begin gently testing the waters with it.  Very light, limited R.O.M. work.   If it is still sharply sensitive, you win the grand prize.  You get to leave it alone for a minimum of another one to two weeks.

 

4) If relatively pain free, you may begin very gradually reintroducing strength and mobility work to the calf/hamstring.  Remember that it is still not fully healed; the current degree of trauma is simply below your level of perception.  But it is still there nonetheless.  Healing will require a minimum of another three to four weeks.  Train the calf accordingly.  

 

 

Now would be a good time to consider that attempting to walk the razor's edge in maximizing gains often results in painful missteps.

 

Work hard in the future?  Absolutely.  However whenever joints are involved (note that both calf and hamstring cross the back of the knee), prudence is the better part of valor.  You can always come back tomorrow and work a little harder.  Unfortunately it is not possible to take back working a little too hard today.

 

Bottomline: never train thru joint pain.

 

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Matthew Jefferys

I wasn't pushing it too far, but I adjusted my pelvis position and that pushed it further than I'd have liked.

 

Awesome. Thank you, Coach!  :D Gives me an excuse to focus more on RC/PE6. Pain is minimal to nonexistent now, so hopefully I can get onto rehabilitation in the coming weeks. Ice it is.

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