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Blog: A Calf Injury Points to New Exercise Possibilities

When I felt something snap deep inside my calf during a squash game, I had no way of knowing it was my invitation to a whole new way of working out.

"What's wrong?" asked my opponent, a great guy who worked at the gym.

"I felt something go pop," I gasped.

I should have mentioned that my opponent had an Australian accent. "Pop's not good, mate," he said, looking concerned. "Pop is BAD."

No kidding, I thought as I dragged myself out of the court and hobbled over to the elevator, leaning against him for support. And as all idiotic weekend warriors do at such times, I was thinking, What if this is serious and I have to have surgery? How am I going to go without working out for months?

My friend helped me gather up all my stuff and get out to my car.

"Just remember, mate," he said before he closed the door, "No matter what, you'll be back here. And there's always the therapy pool in the meantime."

Which was how I found myself swimming laps on a regular basis for probably the first time since college. It was also how I learned about the class our athletic club offers in Ai Chi (an Eastern-inspired, warm-water exercise program) and all the different machines that don't work your legs. It was also how I learned about free weights and water weights.

The athletic club staff was great - they showed me how to use unfamiliar equipment and asked me how the injury was healing. I met a whole new group of workout buddies, and I actually came to enjoy the change provided by the different regimen. I also wound up with happening biceps, and that was pretty cool, too.

And really, all things considered, it could have been a lot worse. The injury turned out to be not a ruptured Achilles tendon (my biggest fear) but a ruptured plantaris (this is a muscle that in my decidedly un-medical opinion seemed to have no real purpose except to pop and hurt). Way, way less complicated than an Achilles injury, and it didn't require surgery. At the end of my rehab period, I wound up back on the courts and with a new appreciation for our club's facilities. I'm still using the pool regularly, along with some of the machines I hadn't tried before I got hurt.

I have to wonder: How many people get hurt and think, as I did initially, that they have to give up working out until they're fully recovered? Without my friend who reminded me about our club's other exercise options, I might have gone the same route.

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