During Tim’s visit a few weeks ago I had another episode with my calves. We played indoor pickup on Saturday morning. I felt great until Sunday morning when I woke up and my calves were so sore I couldn’t walk normally.
Was it because of the strange surface of the church gym’s floor? Was it because I didn’t sleep much the night before? Was it just my level of dehydration? Maybe doing a 90 minute Bikram Yoga session after playing for several hours wasn’t the best idea.
There is no one right answer here. Major problems often have more than one cause. Regardless of what I could have done differently, my calves are a weak link in my body’s performance. My issues with my calves are one of the reasons I took up jump rope training. I am surprised and frustrated that my calves can still be thoroughly destroyed.
But if it had to happen, it was good timing.
Coincidentally, I had signed up to be a volunteer for a sports massage class that Friday. I had also scheduled an appointment with the instructor of the class on Tuesday. The appointment Tuesday was not only to get some work done, but also to discuss soft tissue work in general. I’ve always believed in massage as a useful recovery tool. However, I hadn’t come to any conclusions about the effectiveness of foam rolling, the stick, etc. In my mind, those modalities seem so far from actual massage that I have not been completely convinced that they could do much good. I decided to ask an expert.
I was hoping the expert would tell me that foam rolling is useless. Then I wouldn’t have to add yet another thing to my training regimen. Of course, the expert said no such thing. In fact, my masseuse was adamant that athletes benefit from doing some sort of soft tissue work every day and that a little bit is much better than nothing at all. He said he spends a lot of time trying to convince his clients to do maintenance work outside of his office instead of calling him when their muscles are already crampy, tight, knotted, or hurting. So much for my rationalizations. It’s time to get on a soft tissue maintenance plan.
Tim says my foam roller is garbage (too soft) so I’ve been using my medicine ball, an old field hockey ball, and other random objects instead. Once I commit to getting on the floor and working on things, I don’t mind it. I don’t know why I have such a strong resistance to doing it. My current philosophy seems to be if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Which will work only as long as I stay unbroken. So far maybe I’ve just been lucky. I am hoping that I learn the value in soft tissue work before a pulled muscle or other injury forces me to. Following two days of incomplete calf contraction, walking properly after a sports massage was a convincing argument.
I don’t think soft tissue work will magically fix my calves. Nevertheless, having this calf episode and talking with a sports massage specialist made me realize that there is still more that I can do to prepare myself for the upcoming season. Better to learn it now rather than later.