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Upper calf pain

Old 08-02-02, 08:12 PM
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flyefisher
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Upper calf pain

I started riding again about 2 months ago. The other day, the muscles or tendons in the upper part of my calves started aching a bit. They ache when I ride but not too badly. I'm afraid it might inflame more. How do I treat this and what may have caused it?
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Old 08-02-02, 09:52 PM
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I hope we get some response on this thread...I've had similar pain off and on since I started higher mileages.
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Old 08-02-02, 11:23 PM
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Could be a few things. Is the bike sized right. This sounds like it could be the opposite of the most common overuse injuryy the knee. That said Are you riding a lot? Maybe you should simply take a break...sometimes aches are your bodies way of saying stop. And thirdly musclar weakness or imbalance. You may want to do some extra, HEAVY work to strengthen the tendons specifically. People typcially develop calf muscles using a lot of reps and or continuous tension (biking). Try doing heavy calf raises to balance out the muscle/tendon connections.
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Old 08-03-02, 10:24 AM
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Indeed it does seem like tendons. I did 18 miles today and around 16 the left one got sharper and sharper in pain. It was very pinpoint, and I could not irritated by rubbing it, so it seems like a tendon deep behind the muscles. What kind of reps do you mean?
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Old 08-03-02, 10:27 AM
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I'm riding about 100 miles a week. I'm trying to build up to 200 ish by the end of the season, but I might just go by a percentage weekly. I'm 5'11" and the bike is a 56cm cannondale. I think perhaps I'll take two days off and then do 80 next week. If something is inflamed, should I ice it or put heat on it?
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Old 08-03-02, 10:42 AM
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Icing tendons will stiffen them up but release the pressure. Heating tendons will increase blood flow causing them to ache a bit more but will aide them in getting them working again. Alternate.

As for reps. Tendons build strength when your muscles are pushed towards the ends of their limits. Power lifters have strong tendons (no steroid using) because of the increased weight load and lower reps done. You don't want to jump into a routine like thise but you may want to do something to aide in strengthening.

Do 3 sets of 10.
1 - Squat or leg press (I prefer leg press as I am very tall)
2 - leg curl
3 - leg extensions

If you have experience in lifting you could drop the number down to 5 sets of 5 and work until exhaustion (not failure). Do this once a week on a non biking day and give one extra day of rest. So if you ride thursday, workout friday don't ride friday or saturday.

I think you will find resting will help tendons can heal themselves. Best of luck. I have had similar problems before you may want to look at the seat height etc.
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Old 08-03-02, 06:21 PM
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Also make sure that you strech. Before your rides and after. This along with every thing else mentioned should help.
Slainte
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Old 08-05-02, 11:44 AM
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One thing you may want to try is lowering your saddle height by 2 or 3 mm. See if this helps with the pain at all.

Trent
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Old 08-07-02, 04:05 AM
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I am interested in TEC's comment.

the rule of thumb on knees and saddle height is if youu get pain in front of the knee, you need to lower the saddle. If you get pain behind the knee, then you should raise the saddle.

Since pain in the calves would be closest to the latter, wouldn't raising the saddle be better?

I am interested if there is a different reasoning (i.e more calf specific) going on?

Cheers,
Jamie
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Old 08-08-02, 07:23 PM
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I went to the local bike shop and they checked out my seat height on a wind trainer. Perfect... I then started observing my cadence, and it seems I was consistently in one gear too high most of the time. I iced the wounds for a couple of days and started back up with a little less mileage and faster cadence. After three days now, it seems better. Should I be targeting my cadence at 85-90ish??
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Old 08-08-02, 07:31 PM
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That is one thing I forgot to mention, possibly spin more. Get your RPM's up. This will help an incredible amount. Also make sure when you are accelerating to start at a higher gear (easiest) and drop it down. This will help your acceleration, make you drive train last longer and most of all help out your knee.
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Old 08-09-02, 02:36 AM
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I prefer a cadence of 100-115 on the flats and 90 in the hills. There is no doubt that it is easier on the joints, tendons, and muscles, especially the first two.

And there is a lot of evidence that higher cadence is more efficient.

Cheers,
Jamie
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Old 08-09-02, 05:29 AM
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If my cadence gets that high, I get winded just from the motion, not the effort. Just to make sure I have my facts right, is cadence one or a half revolution of the crank?
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Old 08-09-02, 09:12 AM
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We have this really steep hill in our neighborhood, and after running quite a bit this summer, I have noticed that my calves have gotten stronger, which has helped when riding. It doesn't happen the first couple of trys. Just a thought.
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Old 08-09-02, 02:35 PM
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A rotation is a full rotation of one leg (i.e. count everytime your left foot comes over the top).

If you are moving to higher cadence, getting winded is normal. You are moving the work from your legs to your cardio-vascular system. Hence, you are going to breath harder at first. Lance Armstrong, notorious for his huge lungs and ability to get oxygen into his blood, is also known for being a high cadence rider--especially in the hills.

The benefit of the high cadence will be better cardio-vascular fitness, and more efficient use of your energy. Depending on where you are coming from, you may need to increase it in stages. Also, be patient, it seems to take a long time to convert your cadence. I wrote up some cadence raising tips, which you'll find at www.uni-bonn.de/~jmlee. Look for the link toward the bottom of the page.

Cheers,
Jamie
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Old 08-09-02, 06:58 PM
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Jamie,

My thinking behind lowering the saddle height a tad was that perhaps this may help if the person pedals very flat footed or keeps the heel low through the pedal stroke.

Trent
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