We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Three years ago, I was playing tennis during the final weekend of summer. The previous two weeks, I'd had some calf pain, nothing significant, I just kept stretching to keep it loose. Suddenly, while chasing a shot down the line, I collapsed with a sharp pain in my calf. At first, it felt like a hot stone had hit my calf. This feeling matched the description my brother had given me of tearing his Achilles, so naturally I was concerned. However, I was able to stand and walk, although stiff and in pain.
This past Friday, while on a golf outing with a client, I was walking down from the first tee when I was hit by the same 'stone' in my other leg. Luckily, this time I knew what the issue was and completed the round, though I used my clubs for support at times.
I suffered, both times, from a tear or strain of the Plantaris tendon. The Plantaris is a vestigial muscle in the calf, often harvested for repair work because it has a tendon which runs from the heel almost up to the knee, attaching a very small muscle. It's length and relatively low capacity makes it attractive for harvest when the need arises. The tricky part is that about 7-10% of all people don't even have this tendon.
Even though the injury is the result of an indirect mechanism, subjectively the patient may describe direct trauma to the calf region – often the athlete feels as though they were struck on the calf by an object such as a ball or piece of equipment.
Tennis players often suffer strains and tears of the Plantaris. My guess is this is due to less attention being paid to the calves by most workouts. At the gym I rarely see people stretching or even working out their calves. But the calves require more attention than they typically get. I'm resting it now and avoiding my usual leg workout at the gym.
Dry needling at the first sign of such pain is a good idea, and any good sports medicine or orthopedic specialist can direct you to a well trained practitioner. It keeps you in the game and speeds up recovery time tremendously.
To those who have taken a real course in Human Anatomy, (MDs now over 65 mainly as Gross Anatomy was dumbed down in American Medical Schools during the 1960s as medical schools were taking in more students.), the Plantaris Tendon they will remember is called the "Freshman Nerve"* as it easily is confused with a nerve in dissection.