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“Muscle strain” rehab in the twilight zone [member post]

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Has this ever happened to you? You hurt yourself, but you’re not quite sure how. The problem just doesn’t seem to quite fit the description of any injury you understand. It seems odd. Eventually it goes away, and, if you ever think of it again, you think, “What the hell was that?

This happened to me this summer. I got injured (again), and it seemed a bit odd, (again). So now it’s time for another delightful episode of Relating to My Readers.

Welcome back to ultimate… and injury!

I strained a calf, I guess, playing ultimate. It was my fourth game since returning to the sport this summer after a sad sixteen-month pandemic gap. I was super excited to play again!

I was super disappointed to be sidelined almost immediately upon returning! Ugh.

And there was no glory either. No dive, no catch, no diving catch. No sprint even! The muscle ripped while jogging from one field position to another. Good grief. Stupid body, stupid age, stupid jogging.

Or did it tear? Rehab in the Twilight Zone

Nothing with this body of mine ever seems to be straightforward. This story doesn’t have a dramatic punchline like my recent kooky experience with mouth and face pain episode… but it’s still a good story with bit of a twist ending, rehab in the Twilight Zone. For damn sure it didn’t end like a tale of a minor muscle tear should.

You’d think I could diagnose a muscle strain (tear), a seemingly straightforward injury, because I have literally written a whole book about them. (And this personal case study will trickle down into that book and make it better… as many of my athletics injuries have in the past.)

If I had a muscle strain at all, it was the easy kind. But my symptoms did not send a clear enough signal to be sure what kind of injury this really was. Funny how often that happens.

So what happened?

Premium subscribers are already reading the whole story right now, and so can you — if you SUBSCRIBE NOW for USD $6/month, or save $12 with an annual subscription for $60.

Or you can just buy the muscle strain book — which I continue to update. In fact, that book has had more substantive science updates in the last few years than I ever would have predicted. Musculoskeletal medicine never fails to disappoint with its surprising scientific complexity and strangeness.

The rest of the post is another 1400 words (4-min read), with these headings:

  • It felt like a cramp at first
  • And yet not like a cramp…
  • Can cramps injure?
  • Comic relief: sideline samaritan prescribes mystery cream
  • Day one: an eyebrow is raised
  • The first two weeks: the mildest strain ever?
  • Things get weird again with [REDACTED]
  • My predictable failure to return to ultimate two weeks after injury
  • Weeks three & four: mostly normal recovery
  • The last chance to play ultimate in the summer of 2021
  • [REDACTED]

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