“Oh,” said Prem, my physiotherapist, on Tuesday. “That’s your Gastrocnemius muscle.”
“The what?” I asked. It sounded like he said something related more to digestion than mobility. Prem repeated it and I answered “Oh,” trying to sound like I knew which muscle he was talking about.
But I didn’t. I probably heard of it when studying the human muscles in grade 12 health classes, when we were compelled to memorize the location and spelling of what seemed like hundreds of different muscle groups. And I may have read about it in Runner’s World or some other fitness magazine. But I had no idea what Prem was talking about on Tuesday; I wondered why he was talking about digestive muscles while palpitating my calf. Trying to seem intelligent, I said nothing and waited to get home to google it.
I love Google. Have you ever googled your own name? Just try it and see what comes up. Well, within a second of typing in gastrocnemius, 53 000 results came up and, by eliminating Wikipedia, I narrowed my search to 52 999. I habitually skipped the first few and found a link to Livestrong.com; Lance, legs – yup, that would be the site to check first. And it was as it clarified what my physiotherapist told me about the gastrocnemius.
Basically, it is part of the calf muscles and it works with the ankle joints to flex the foot, move from side to side, and rotate left and right. It also helps generate force when you run and absorb shock when you land on the ground.
So this muscle was likely compensated during the spring while my ankle was healing. Then, on my Sunday’s run, when I jumped from the curb to the road on a downhill curve, my gastrocnemius threw a temper tantrum. “Enough is enough!” he cried (Gastrocnemius has to be male; just listen to how masculine it sounds. Now add a French accent – definitely male). “You’ve pushed me too far. I’m not going to let you do anything right now! Nothing! Not until you’re nicer to me!”
And so I am listening to him now. He is being ultrasounded, lasered, iced, stretched, and rested. He is relaxing, feet up and completely carefree. I am being as nice to him as I can.
“Now, dear Gastroc, you need to be kind to me too. I need you to help me out. You see, I have these running goals that I want to achieve next month, and I can’t without you.”
Gastroc is listening. Most definitely, he is interested. Let’s see what happens.