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Ugh. I pulled my right calf muscle… again.

My right leg is slightly shorter than my left and because of that, my right leg overcompensates and is prone to injury. I don’t get injured often but my right calf muscle is notorious for putting me out for a few days. In fact, it happens about once a year and it happened again during my Insanity warm-up this morning.

Not cool, right calf muscle, not cool…

At first I thought “Shit! How’m I supposed to get through this bloody workout now?!” It was my most dreaded workout: Pure Cardio which, unlike the other Insanity workouts, doesn’t give you a water break, you’re just supposed to take rests when you need to. I had to think quickly on my feet and decided to do go through the warm-up stretch as usual and then stop the DVD to do some extra stretching on my calf muscles hoping that after a good stretch I’d be able to at least do what I could for the remaining 20 minutes.

Luckily (luckily?!) I got through the workout and Cardio Abs without straining it any further but it was only because of two decisions I made:

  1. Take it easy on ALL plyo moves (read: don’t do ’em!)
  2. Constantly assess how I’m doing. If it feels like it’s going to get worse, stop immediately

I followed it all up with mega stretching afterwards, foam rolling, extra strength Advil and a hot pad. Who knows what this means for the rest of my workouts for the week but it’s a good time to talk about when to keep going in your workouts and when to take a break.

I know a lot of people who, when injured, keep going. It’s like this mixture of stubbornness and denial that keeps people doing things when they know they need to stop. A lot of people are afraid that the doctor will tell them to stop doing what they’re doing and when it comes to working out, that scares the shit out of some people. Like they’ll immediately start gaining weight or kill someone!

I get it though. When you’re doing something you love and you get injured, it’s scary to think that someone may tell you not to ever do it again, I understand, but when it comes to injuries and exercise what would you rather do: 1) get checked out before it gets worse so you can rehab it and get back at it, or 2) drive that injury into the ground because you’re too damned stubborn and THEN find out that you can’t do that workout anymore simply because you didn’t see the doctor when it first happened? Trust me when I say you’re ALWAYS better off going to the doctor at first signs.

When I get injured (doesn’t happen a lot but does happen) and I feel conflicted I remind myself that I began to work out to get healthy; working out while injured is not healthy! It’s just going to make things worse! Very rarely will you be told you have to stop doing something permanently (and if they do, I’d suggest getting a second opinion – even a third or fourth) so suck it up and remind yourself that getting checked out is going to make you stronger because working through an injury will just make you weak. If you’re worried about gaining weight, don’t be! Depending on the injury you can still work out, you’ll just have to be careful about your injury and if you can’t work out at all, just be more mindful of your eating habits. Remember that weight loss is more dependent on what you put into your body than what you do to it.

Don’t be a hero. Muscle soreness is to be expected when you’re working out and the best remedy is (and I’m not joking here) to keep working out and make sure you’re fueling yourself properly. It’ll work itself out, I promise! But if your muscles hurt, as in you’re in pain, stop immediately and reassess your workout. Can you do the workout with modified moves? If so, go for it. If it lasts for a few days, make an appointment with your doctor right away, you’d rather be out for a couple of days then a couple of weeks (or worse: MONTHS).

My calf has done this before so I know I don’t need to go to the doctor but I also know that this means that each workout I do until it’s fine will have to be done on a workout to workout basis. I’ll have to take it easy on all plyo moves or moves that aggravate it, stretch it a lot, keep my heating pad handy and generally take it easy.

How do you handle workout injuries?

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