Saturday, June 17, 2017


RICE is an approach that one can use to relieve pain, reduce swelling when an injury to muscles, knees, ankles etc, to minimize the impact of the injury, promote healing. It stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation, see information on WebMD for detailed discussion.

Last Sunday, I felt my right calf being pulled as I was slow down to conclude my 5 mile run. No real pain just calf tightness. So I did not pay too much attention to it.

I was OK on Monday. I did feel that the tightness in my right calf. One more night sleep, the tightness in the injured calf was almost gone. I had my usual after-lunch jogging - no pain. Another night rest, I did not feel the tightness on my right calf, and I decided to continue my routine runs - instead of 5 mile run, I ran 5K, and ran much slower that usual. At the end of the run I felt right calf tightness again - but I could walk home without much discomfort.

When I stepped out of my car that morning at the parking lot at work, after about 30 minute drive, I really felt discomfort and tightness in my right calf as my weight shifted from left foot to right. I limped to my office!

My colleagues notice my limping, and they introduced me to R.I.C.E.

Upon reading, it is obvious that my symptom is really mild: no pain, no obvious swelling  - so I do not need ice, I do apply compression or massage the right calf - which reduce the tightness there, I elevate my right leg a bit.

The most important part of RICE for me is REST, preventing stretching the muscle again before it fully heals. I learned the lesson the hard way - I restarted my running too soon, and my symptom worsened.

The recommended rest period for a mild calf strain (pulled calf) is 2 ~ 3 weeks. The real criterion to return to exercise is pain free, discomfort free with the the injured calf. The return to full strength schedule should be gradual  - a calf workout may help, which include foot pump, seated calf raises and standing calf raise.  Any exercise that cause pain should be stopped immediately.

 After learning my lesson, I decided not to run,  not to walk for extended time or distance, for a week or two. Instead I started cycling. In fact I biked with Lily in about 1 hour for 16 km this morning - since cycling barely uses calf - I experienced no calf tightness, discomfort.

Consistent running provides tremendous  benefits, but got to RICE when any injuries occur.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Benefits of Regular Running

I have been in near perfect health conditions for quite sometime, slim/perfect BMI, energetic. One blemish was low HDL (high density lipoprotein) Cholesterol, a.k.a. the good cholesterol,  due to lack of high intensity exercise.

Since started full time job, I sit in front a computer almost all day long daily and quickly my HDL became low. Despite years regular exercise - primarily walking/jogging, my HDL number did not improve because my exercise intensity was not high enough. My doctor suggested me to take medicine to increase my HDL cholesterol. I did not take the suggestion because I knew I could improve my HDL without medicine, and that the medicine has side effect on liver. My HDL turned to normal during the years when I was the coach to Nicholas' youth soccer team - running and playing soccer with kids weekly.  Unfortunately my HDL quickly went back to below normal after I stopped soccer coaching. 

I started running twice a week last October, one during the weekday, one on weekend.

I run when it was really cold - I just put on gloves, hat and heavier sports wear.

I run when it is hot - get up a bit earlier and try to stay in the shade.

I reschedule my run time when it rains, but I run twice a week.

Started recently,  I run when I go on business trip - bring my running shoes and sports wear.
I run when we are on vacation.

There has been no exception unless I am sick.

Running once or twice is easy, running regularly is hard to most people. How to keep running - start slow with easy to reach goal such as running one mile once a week, when comfortable gradually raise the bar; find incentives other than exercise, such as fresh air, beautiful sunrise or sunset ...set a long term goal - mine initially was 5K run, and now it changes to 5 mile run at Colony green dragon 5 miler in October. My 5 mile run will help me to climb Mt Whitney later this year as well!!

In addition to better health, stronger legs, higher energy, two recent events demonstrated the significant benefits of the regular running  - 1) I had no obvious sour muscles after my first full day hiking for 16 miles on Cross Timber Hiking Trail, 2500 ft elevation change; 2) My HDL cholesterol is tested to rise from below minimum requirement to substantially above it. My doctor was amazed and I am very pleased!