There is always going to be something that just gets in the way of you moving forward. You get busy in life, its too hot, too cold. or you don't feel like it. The past few weeks I haven't done any heeling exercises because I pulled my calf muscle. I've been pulling my calf muscle for over 25 years, so the tissue there is scarred and weak.I have to be careful because stretching the muscle actually puts a strain where it is more proned to injuring the muscle again.
The main reason why I stopped doing dog agility was consistently pulling my calf muscle. In agility you are running, then do a quick stop, the turns, and the burst of runs all put strain on that weak scarred muscle. One time I pulled the muscle in an agility practice it literally felt like someone took a sling shot, and snapped it on my calf with as much pulled back force as possible. I had to have people help me walk off the field. Then a few years later my vision had started to deteriorate and I took a good nasty fall that I sprained my ankle. This took about three months to heal. I figured that I should start getting into another dog sport, like agility. I certainly wouldn't be as prone to injuries. So I thought.
Nearly four weeks ago I was practicing heeling with Mickey. I wanted to see how he would do in a fast walk, since this is required in the competition ring. I burst forward to get Mickey in a trot and felt that little zing in my leg and felt the tenderness in my calf muscle. I didn't hurt it bad, but enough that I had to favor that leg. Then a week later for no reason at all, just walking, not even doing heeling, I pulled the muscle. Since then I haven't been able to practice heeling. I tried at one park, but hurt that muscle again. I need to be careful and allow the muscle to heel completely before I can go back to my activities of heeling again.
How I so desire to practicing heeling. It isn't that strenuous of an activity, but with my calf muscle injured, and if I try to do heeling exercises, I will just injure myself again. Even if I think I'm doing OK and try to sneak a practice in, like I did two weeks ago, I got into the zone with Mickey, didn't pay attention to my leg and there was that ZAP of pain again. Sigh. There must be away to practice.
So how do I practice so I won't loose valuable training time? What can I do? There must be some foundation I can build to continue to train. Oh the beauty of problem solving. There is always something to figure out.
I can still stand which will allow me to perfect heeling in position. I can also do one step sideways, turn in a circle in one place clock-wise or counter-clock wise and even move in a square dance type fashion. I can take one step forward or one step back. All these movements are still like Dancing with Mickey. These movements can allow me to train, until my leg heals. This is very similar to the platform training I described earlier. Although it is not like heeling walking forward, it will enable Mickey to watch my movements and move with me. Similar to my canine freestyle training I have done. Eventually we do left turns, right turns and about turns in the ring. These exercises while my leg heels are perfect for position training.
Each small movement I do, I set the criteria of Mickey's position. I use high value treats or his toy. He's in the game, we are training again.