I’ve recently strained my gastrocnemius muscle while on a trip to Death Valley. I remember it felt like an extreme Charlie horse, that reminded me of the ones I use to suffer from during my football days. After massaging it I decided to just put my head down and keep on going. Which is what I always seem to do. I know my limits and I continue to press those limits, as if it is going to make me limitless. After scaling a couple of peeks, followed by another hike, and a night on trampolines (Sky Zone), my calf gave out.
Being injured when all you want to do is be outside and explore and just see the beauty of nature is really disheartening. I’ve been doing all I can to heal and for a bit it actually felt like I was fully healed. I can’t tell you, how excited I was to actually be close to ending my recovery. I quickly made plans with some friends to do an easy 5 mile trail for the following weekend. I thought I was fine. I was wrong.
I picked a hike near Altadena CA, called Eaton Canyon. It’s a well traveled hike and very popular with the locals. Not my type of trail, but it said it was easy, and since I just recovered I figured “why not”? I set out on the trail with a couple of companions and we were off. The trail for the most part is a wide dirt fire road. It runs along a dry river bed (We are in a drought) and continues further into the canyon, taking moderate inclines until reaching a waterfall.
I was doing really well at first, and nothing was hurting. I felt like I had no limits. I soon found a small debris flow that went off the trail and into another canyon. I felt a small smile form on my face as I looked at my friends and said, let’s go! I don’t know if it was the adventurer or the geologist in me that wanted to explore that area more. Probably a mixture of both? On one side I would be able to get away from the crowds, and on the other there was the possibility of finding some cool metamorphic rocks.
As I begun my ascent, I was moving quite quickly, using the larger rocks for footing. Then it hit me. I felt my calf pull and had to immediately stop. This was worse than before, I felt it instantly cramp up, and for the life of me I could not do anything with it. My friend asked if I was okay, and I told her what happened. We stopped and rested for several minutes. Then we all decided that was going to have to do it for the day.
As we headed back I had to walk slowly, as to not put too much pressure on my leg. Each step was painful, but I have a high tolerance for pain and can usually just push through the pain. I remember feeling disappointed and angry with myself. I really wanted to finish this hike. I wanted to be better. I wanted to do more, but I couldn’t. I pushed myself too much and now I was hurt again, possibly worse than before.
It’s been a few days since that hike, and my leg does not feel better. The RICE method has become a constant routine and at times it feels much better. But today is pretty bad. As I write this now, I can feel a golf ball size lump on my calf muscle and boy does it hurt to massage it out.
Anyway that is my little rant on going beyond your limits. I hope next time I suffer a minor injury I listen to my body and know when to take it easy. It’s going to be a few weeks before I’m ready to hit the trails again. I hope I don’t get cabin fever in the mean times.