A short history of the calf muscle.

What is the calf muscle?

Let’s get on the same page: the calf muscle is not one muscle. It’s two muscles.

Fine. What are the calf muscles?

Thank you. They are the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle. Together, they stretch from your ankle to your knee and allow you to walk and do other athletic stuff if you feel like it.

How come you’re not doing any athletic stuff right now, and also you’re walking funny.

I tore my calf muscle.

You mean your calf muscles?

That was a test and you passed. Yes. I tore my calf muscles today.

Is it kind of like rupturing your Achilles’ tendon?

No. It’s much worse. The pain is indescribable and something that no one else in the world has ever experienced. It is as if a baseball pitcher sneaked up behind you and hurled a ball at the back of your leg as hard as she could. And imagine the baseball had little spikes with frog poison on the tips that immediately sent electrical impulses to every nerve between your knee and your ankle carrying the worst pain ever.

The medical journals describe it as “a tearing away of the muscle from the bone.” If it sounds painful, I can tell you that yes. It is.

So what happened?

I was at the skate park running up ramps with my two-year old. I was running incredibly fast and holding his hand and as I raced up a ramp that was almost an eighty-degree incline, I planted my right foot and suddenly there was a loud pop!

For a split second I thought I had been shot. Seriously. I thought I had been shot, or attacked, or somebody had accidentally thrown a bowling ball at my leg. It was the third most painful injury I’ve ever had.

What do you do for a calf injury?

I would prefer you describe it simply as an acute gastrocnemius-soleusal rupture. It’s too hard to remember what a calf tear is, and it’s not specific enough.

What you do with an acute gastrocnemius-soleus rupture is this: you survive. There are three categories of, to use a layperson’s terminology, calf tear. Category 1 is painful but heals up in 7-10 days. Category 2 is worse than Category 1 but not as bad as Category 3. Category 3 is really bad and can take at least two months to heal and may involve surgery.

I’m guessing that mine is a Category 4.

Rest, ice, compression, elevation. The old RICE trick. I can manage the last three anyway.

Wish me luck and may I be back on the wilderness trails and skate parks again soon, soaring and flying like the elegant ostrich I am.

Well wishes accepted, and I’ll try to have a PayPal donation button here soon. But first I gotta ice again before I pass out.

One more question: is there a lesson I should take away from this?

The big one is probably this: don’t run around and play with your kids.