Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Heavy, achy calves

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 2 Replies
  • Posted By: incircles
  • June 25, 2009
  • 05:56 PM

This first happened last May, rather spontanteously. My legs suddenly felt stiff and achy, and I thought the best thing to fix that would be to stretch and go to the climbing gym. After five minutes on the wall, I realized my mistake. I was walking like a newborn deer for four or five days, with unbearable heavy aching that kept me awake at night. My legs also felt shaky and did, in fact, shake.

This happened again in July. Since then, the achiness has been relatively subdued, and I've been able to get back to doing things like going to rock shows, standing up and playing in bands, doing the elliptical machine for 10-15 minutes three times a week, etc. Sometimes my calves will burn, especially when driving, playing the piano, or playing drums, but most of the achiness I've felt in the last six months has been "normal," e.g. the product of, say, being on my feet for 6 hours. Sometimes my ankles will itch deep inside, in a way that can't be scratched, and sometimes my legs will feel heavier than they should, but nothing TOO unbearable.

I've been going to physical therapy for my back for the last few months. They think it's just postural, but one person there thinks the calf sensitivity might be spinal.

Saturday I danced for an hour or so -- nothing too crazy -- and didn't do too much else until I got on the elliptical for 7 minutes on Wednesday. Only 7 minutes! I still felt fine. I then went to physical therapy for my back, and an hour later my calves were heavy, achy, and shaky in that awful way again, completely unlike the good burn or pain that seems to indicate a workout (keep in mind that until all this started happening, i was in great shape and very familiar with post-workout soreness). I haven't slept well for three days now. Elevating my legs and rubbing menthol on them helps, but they still feel intensely "nauseated," I suppose. Very heavy, very shaky, but not *painful* per se.

I've seen a neurologist, a rheumatologist, and an orthopedic surgeon. All of them say I need to just keep working out. I've had a calf MRI, a muscle biopsy, and bloodwork. Everything seems normal. I have *not* had a spinal MRI or any cardiological tests. Any opinions on whether these would be good things to pursue? The current episode is KILLING me.

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  • Avoid activities that primarily demand strength, power and speed out of your legs muscles, because they can create bigger bulkier muscle. For instance, short intense cardio workouts, workouts that need strength and exercises which involve resistance, incline or going up hills. Steep inclines on the treadmill particularly and hill running will build up calves making big calves even bigger.Avoid high-impact jumping movements, for example rope jumping. Swimming, walking, cross-training. The elliptical machines (see more elliptical workout examples here) are wonderful to lose fat in the muscles of the achilles tendon. The elliptical machine is a superb tool for low-impact cardio. However, keep your resistance low. Rather than burning calories by increasing resistance, exercise for extended periods. Walking slims down the lower legs since it lengthens the muscles between your back of the knee and the ankle.Steer clear of the step machine along with other kinds of climbing exercises, because these kind of exercises target the achilles tendon to improve size.
    TinaMSisk 2 Replies
    • December 22, 2010
    • 06:02 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • This first happened last May, rather spontanteously. My legs suddenly felt stiff and achy, and I thought the best thing to fix that would be to stretch and go to the climbing gym. After five minutes on the wall, I realized my mistake. I was walking like a newborn deer for four or five days, with unbearable heavy aching that kept me awake at night. My legs also felt shaky and did, in fact, shake.This happened again in July. Since then, the achiness has been relatively subdued, and I've been able to get back to doing things like going to rock shows, standing up and playing in bands, doing the elliptical machine for 10-15 minutes three times a week, etc. Sometimes my calves will burn, especially when driving, playing the piano, or playing drums, but most of the achiness I've felt in the last six months has been "normal," e.g. the product of, say, being on my feet for 6 hours. Sometimes my ankles will itch deep inside, in a way that can't be scratched, and sometimes my legs will feel heavier than they should, but nothing TOO unbearable.I've been going to physical therapy for my back for the last few months. They think it's just postural, but one person there thinks the calf sensitivity might be spinal.Saturday I danced for an hour or so -- nothing too crazy -- and didn't do too much else until I got on the elliptical for 7 minutes on Wednesday. Only 7 minutes! I still felt fine. I then went to physical therapy for my back, and an hour later my calves were heavy, achy, and shaky in that awful way again, completely unlike the good burn or pain that seems to indicate a workout (keep in mind that until all this started happening, i was in great shape and very familiar with post-workout soreness). I haven't slept well for three days now. Elevating my legs and rubbing menthol on them helps, but they still feel intensely "nauseated," I suppose. Very heavy, very shaky, but not *painful* per se.I've seen a neurologist, a rheumatologist, and an orthopedic surgeon. All of them say I need to just keep working out. I've had a calf MRI, a muscle biopsy, and bloodwork. Everything seems normal. I have *not* had a spinal MRI or any cardiological tests. Any opinions on whether these would be good things to pursue? The current episode is KILLING me.Avoid activities that primarily demand strength, power and speed out of your legs muscles, because they can create bigger bulkier muscle. For instance, short intense cardio workouts, workouts that need strength and exercises which involve resistance, incline or going up hills. Steep inclines on the treadmill particularly and hill running will build up calves making big calves even bigger.Avoid high-impact jumping movements, for example rope jumping. Swimming, walking, cross-training. The elliptical machines (see some elliptical workout examples) are wonderful to lose fat in the muscles of the achilles tendon. The elliptical machine is a superb tool for low-impact cardio. However, keep your resistance low. Rather than burning calories by increasing resistance, exercise for extended periods. Walking slims down the lower legs since it lengthens the muscles between your back of the knee and the ankle.Steer clear of the step machine along with other kinds of climbing exercises, because these kind of exercises target the achilles tendon to improve size.
    TinaMSisk 2 Replies
    • December 22, 2010
    • 06:05 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
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