Are you suffering from a Calf Muscle Strain?
The term ‘Calf’ is just a generic word for describing the back of the lower leg. The ‘Calf’ muscle is a complex of 6 different muscles. The two largest and most commonly injured are the Gastrocnemius and Soleus. A smaller but often problematic muscle is the Tibialis Posterior. The Calf Muscles action is to point the foot/ankle downwards, away from the body.
The Gastrocnemius and Soleus form to make the Achilles Tendon, there is a separate piece on this here.
Calf strains often occur when exercising e.g. running, hill walking etc. In a lot of cases, there is an increase in activity or new activity in the weeks or days leading up to the calf muscle strain. Symptoms of a calf muscle strain include a ‘popping’ or ‘tearing’ sensation, pain, swelling, bruising or pain on moving. There are different types of muscle strains varying from minor to complete rupture.
A thorough History and Physical Examination by your Chartered Physiotherapist will determine the likelihood of a calf muscle strain. If the examination shows an obvious muscle strain then a series of exercises and advice will be prescribed.
It is rare that a calf muscle strain will require an MRI scan or a surgical procedure. A conservative approach with careful management of load will suffice.
MyPhysio’s thoughts on Calf Muscle Strain
If given enough time and rest, a minor muscle strain will heal itself. The only issue with this is that if the appropriate exercise protocols are not followed your calf muscle may heal with poor flexibility and strength. You may have no pain walking or playing sport but compensations have been developed subconsciously and you will put yourself at a high risk of recurring calf muscle strains. Progressive loading of the calf and lower limbs will avoid this.
If you have any queries regarding Calf Muscle Strains, please ‘Ask the Expert’.