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Feb
09

February 9th. Do you know where your plantaris is?

By Claudette

Plantaris muscle: Gone in 60 seconds! (Not my leg. Less hair on my leg; Plenty o' hurt.)

Of course, you might not even have one.

Between 7 and 20% of medically dissected cadavers don’t.

You’re not dead yet, so you probably only know if you have this vestigial calf muscle if you ruptured it playing hard…
….as I did, December 16, 2009.

Muscling 140 pounds of diving gear out of the sea, I pushed hard against sand and swirling water and felt a whomping !POP! on my right calf.  It felt like a tennis ball had hit it.  Then came a fascinating sensation as the now free tendon slithered downwards from my knee to my ankle, right before the next step brought a wave of pain.

Ok, this couldn’t be good.

Home to ice, compression, elevation and single malt scotch while I convinced my brain to take the night off.  I’d worry about it tomorrow.

December 17th I could barely walk, but even my hobbling was enough for a physician teammate to diagnose it between my car and the hospital door: “You trashed a vestigial calf muscle.   Common in middle-aged athletes who play hard.  The tendon just gets old and gives up. I did it myself when I was 47 playing tennis. You don’t need it. You’ll heal just fine.  See ya!

10 minutes later I had the reference from PubMed: “The plantaris muscle: anatomy, injury, imaging and treatment.”  Spina, A.A., Journal of Canadian Chiropractic Association, 2007.

Treatment: Rest 1 to 3 days.  Ice, compress, elevate.  (No mention of single malt scotch. They’re missing it!) Resume activity when pain subsides and rehab as needed for specific sports.

And that’s exactly what happened.  I hobbled and Igor-walked for a couple of weeks, and dived plenty as that didn’t irritate it.  I appreciated my dearest buddy who loaded my gear on the boat for a great weekend of diving.

I knocked off the gym until I could walk without pain, 30 days later.

The first week of running and lifting reanimated some of the pain in my right calf, but it was manageable.

By the second week back in the gym, I didn’t even think about it anymore.

Healing is a wonderful thing.

And then…yesterday…. I shuffled my weight routine as I do every few weeks.
Dumbbell single-leg Romanian Deadlifts“?
Sure!  No problem.

Down…up…down…up… 3 sets of 6 reps, I was feeling good.

[Tick, tick, tick... a night passes.....]

Today?  I could barely walk.
With each step forward the right hamstring HURT!!

Seems my right hamstring muscles are missing their little friend, the plantaris muscle, 8 weeks after the little striated slacker gave up the ghost.  Ow!!

My left leg and hamstring are fine and dandy. I know where THAT plantaris is… still.
But the right hamstring, now lifting with just the remaining gastrocnemius and soleus calf muscles, is howling mad and has been telling me about it all day in excruciating detail.

It wins. It gets the night off. Back to the gym in a couple of days.

I love healing.   Isn’t it over yet?

~~~~
Claudette

5 Comments

1

Plantaris? Wow!! I could’ve sworn that was the name of the planet where Capt Kirk met the cute space girl with blue skin and got lucky. But then, confusing heavenly bodies and anatomy is sometimes easy to do. :)

2

How does the body dispose of the detached muscle?

3

Interesting article. I appreciate it.

4

Apparently, it deconstructs it and absorbs it as our bodies constantly remodel injured tissue.

5

You’re welcome! I was shocked when it happened.
I’m an O.R. RN, so my brain-in-pain went right there: Imagining a severe injury requiring invasive repair and extended rehabilitation.
8-o
Only new, reliable knowledge could take me from DefCon4 down to, “Oh, it hurts and it’ll heal. Carry on.”

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