Calf Muscle Injury
A Calf Muscle Injury is common in sports and is sometimes known as a ‘pulled calf’. The term ‘pulled muscle’ comes from the description of how the injury takes place. Usually the calf muscle is loaded to quickly or lacked the required strength for the activity and the muscle fibre is literally pulled apart. A tear in the calf muscle is referred to as a calf strain and depending on its severity it is classified as a first, second or third degree strain.
Signs of injury may not be present until after the activity is over. There may be a sensation of cramp or tightness and a slight feeling of pain when the muscles are stretched or contracted. Mild discomfort and minimal disability.
Immediate pain which is more severe than the pain of a grade one injury. It is confirmed by pain on stretch and contraction of the muscle. A grade two strain is usually sore to touch. Moderate discomfort with walking and limits activities such as running and jumping.
This is a very serious injury as the muscle is completely torn and there may be a large lump of muscle above a depression where the tear is. Minimal pain but an inability to walk will be present.
Treatment will vary greatly depending on the grade of injury; however all require protection through ice, compressions and optimal loading during the first 48hours to limit bleeding and swelling.
Once ready, your physiotherapist may commence soft tissue techniques including massage and dry needling to help align the scar tissue which forms during the healing process. You will also be given gentle strengthening and stretching drills to further progress this.
As you progress your physiotherapist will tailor your rehabilitation programme to include any specific sport or functional activities that you need to return to full function.
Calf muscle strains are more common among men aged 30-50. The medial gastrocnemis (inside of the calf muscle) is the most commonly injured part of the calf complex and individuals usually report a sudden, sharp pain or the feeling of ‘being kicked in the back of the leg’.
During the first 48hrs following the POLICE protocol of protection, optimal loading, ice, compression and elevation will help to reduce secondary tissue damage.
After the early stages of rest, more active rehabilitation can be started. Our Sports Physiotherapists have extensive experience in the treatment of calf injuries and will guide you through a personalised treatment plan, so you know you are in safe hands.