A calf strain is one of the most common injuries for people caused by exercising and even more so for athletes. Various things can cause the pain in calf muscles from muscles strains, tears, ruptures, blood clots, and cramps, so it’s imperative to have it looked at properly to then know what rehab is necessary. Our team at Coffs Coast Sports Physiotherapy have written this blog to hopefully help you through the process.

 

What is the calf muscle?

 

The calf is made up of two major muscles; one above the knee joint called the gastrocnemius and the other from below the knee joint soleus and both join to the Achilles tendon. The muscle’s primary roles are plantar flexion which is pointing your toes and assisting in bending the knee. Calf strains are graded based on mild, moderate or severe and are based on small numbers of torn calf muscle fibres, causing some pain, ranging up to muscle fibres which have ruptured and result in significant pain and major loss of function.

 

How does a calf muscle strain occur?

 

A calf muscle strain or tear occurs typically due to a sudden contraction in the muscle arising from accelerating quickly from standing still. They commonly occur in sports like football, athletics and netball where jumping and sprinting are involved. But it also occurs as simply as stepping off a ladder, jumping into a pool, or walking up a hill. Besides pain, signs of a muscle strain may be mild swelling, redness, bruising, and  the inability to stand on the ball of your foot.

 

Prevention

 

The best way to prevent a calf strain is to keep the muscles strong so that they can absorb the energy of sudden physical stress, but here are some other preventative ways to avoid damaging a calf muscle.

  • Stretching before any physical activity with specific calf raising exercises
  • Practising proper technique in the sport you’ve chosen
  • Undertake strength and fitness training and programs
  • Allow adequate recovery time between workouts and training sessions
  • Wear correctly fitted sports footwear for exercise and sport
  • Always check the environment for hazards like uneven pathways and holes in grassed areas
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after a physical session

 

What to do when you first feel pain in a calf muscle?

 

The recommended treatment for any soft tissue injury is the RICE protocol –

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

 

Apply this method for the first 48-72 hours post-injury. The aim is to reduce the swelling and damage to the muscle tissue—also eliminate heat, alcohol, activity and massage. Recovering time can vary, but it usually takes three days for a calf muscle to feel better for minor injuries. Full recovery can take up to six weeks and longer without adequate therapy.

 

What rehab will be needed?

 

As pain decreases, you can usually begin a light exercise and stretching regime.  Rehabilitation should be conducted under the supervision of a physiotherapist due to the risk of injury recurrence. Your physiotherapist will be able to assess from your injury how much rehab will be needed and what kind of exercise program you’ll need for the fasted recovery.   Programs will be made up of a series of exercises and separated into the following categories.

 

Stretching

 

These exercises will help mobility and are aimed at maintaining normal joint range of movement in the ankles, hips and knees, and the calf muscles themselves.

 

Activation exercises

 

Activation exercises are helpful and designed to fire and tone the calf muscles and the hip and gluteal muscles.

 

Strengthening exercises

 

Strengthening exercises can be gradually increased with heavier weights as the muscles strengthen. These exercises are developed depending on the particular sports-related to you.

 

Movement control

Coordination and balance exercises are essential for movement control and become more difficult with progression.

 

If you have strained your calf muscle, you need to see a physiotherapist to get the best outcome, and limit your chance of recurrence.

 

Contact us online or call us on 02 6651 9622 for our Coffs Harbour clinic & 02 6654 2477 for our Woolgoolga clinic to help you on your road to recovery.

Calf Strain
Calf Strain

A calf strain is one of the most common injuries for people caused by exercising and even more so for athletes. Various things can cause the pain in calf muscles from muscles strains, tears, ruptures, blood clots, and cramps, so it’s imperative to have it looked at properly to then know what rehab is necessary. Our team at Coffs Coast Sports Physiotherapy have written this blog to hopefully help you through the process.

 

What is the calf muscle?

 

The calf is made up of two major muscles; one above the knee joint called the gastrocnemius and the other from below the knee joint soleus and both join to the Achilles tendon. The muscle’s primary roles are plantar flexion which is pointing your toes and assisting in bending the knee. Calf strains are graded based on mild, moderate or severe and are based on small numbers of torn calf muscle fibres, causing some pain, ranging up to muscle fibres which have ruptured and result in significant pain and major loss of function.

 

How does a calf muscle strain occur?

 

A calf muscle strain or tear occurs typically due to a sudden contraction in the muscle arising from accelerating quickly from standing still. They commonly occur in sports like football, athletics and netball where jumping and sprinting are involved. But it also occurs as simply as stepping off a ladder, jumping into a pool, or walking up a hill. Besides pain, signs of a muscle strain may be mild swelling, redness, bruising, and  the inability to stand on the ball of your foot.

 

Prevention

 

The best way to prevent a calf strain is to keep the muscles strong so that they can absorb the energy of sudden physical stress, but here are some other preventative ways to avoid damaging a calf muscle.

  • Stretching before any physical activity with specific calf raising exercises
  • Practising proper technique in the sport you’ve chosen
  • Undertake strength and fitness training and programs
  • Allow adequate recovery time between workouts and training sessions
  • Wear correctly fitted sports footwear for exercise and sport
  • Always check the environment for hazards like uneven pathways and holes in grassed areas
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after a physical session

 

What to do when you first feel pain in a calf muscle?

 

The recommended treatment for any soft tissue injury is the RICE protocol –

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

 

Apply this method for the first 48-72 hours post-injury. The aim is to reduce the swelling and damage to the muscle tissue—also eliminate heat, alcohol, activity and massage. Recovering time can vary, but it usually takes three days for a calf muscle to feel better for minor injuries. Full recovery can take up to six weeks and longer without adequate therapy.

 

What rehab will be needed?

 

As pain decreases, you can usually begin a light exercise and stretching regime.  Rehabilitation should be conducted under the supervision of a physiotherapist due to the risk of injury recurrence. Your physiotherapist will be able to assess from your injury how much rehab will be needed and what kind of exercise program you’ll need for the fasted recovery.   Programs will be made up of a series of exercises and separated into the following categories.

 

Stretching

 

These exercises will help mobility and are aimed at maintaining normal joint range of movement in the ankles, hips and knees, and the calf muscles themselves.

 

Activation exercises

 

Activation exercises are helpful and designed to fire and tone the calf muscles and the hip and gluteal muscles.

 

Strengthening exercises

 

Strengthening exercises can be gradually increased with heavier weights as the muscles strengthen. These exercises are developed depending on the particular sports-related to you.

 

Movement control

Coordination and balance exercises are essential for movement control and become more difficult with progression.

 

If you have strained your calf muscle, you need to see a physiotherapist to get the best outcome, and limit your chance of recurrence.

 

Contact us online or call us on 02 6651 9622 for our Coffs Harbour clinic & 02 6654 2477 for our Woolgoolga clinic to help you on your road to recovery.

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