Calf Strains

The first ever calf strain was documented in 1883 and it was actually called “tennis leg”.

What is the calf muscle?

he calf muscle complex or the triceps surae, is found on the posterior aspect of your leg and is made up of the gastrocnemius, soleus and plantaris (which is absent almost 20% of the time). Collectively, they insert on the calcaneus by way of the Achilles’ tendon. They function to plantarflex the ankle (going up on the toes) and also act eccentrically to control dorsiflexion. Calf strains typically occur in middle aged people from non contact injuries. Simply put, calf injuries occur when the gastrocnemius fails to withstand a certain force or strain. Muscle strains of the lower extremity are a serious threat to runners as they have a high recurrence rate. Muscle strains heal by repair (scar formation) unlike when you fracture a bone which heals by means of regeneration (identical tissue).

What to do?

Protection:

protecting the healing tissue is probably the most important part of the healing process. The use of crutches during the initial 48 hours can also be helpful since it’s quite hard to unload the calf given its role in our everyday lives

Compression:

Considering you have ruled out the possibility of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), compression can help minimise the size of the infra-muscular hematoma. Wrap the bottom of the leg tighter and gradually loosen as you move up. Perform this for 60 seconds and combine with elevation.

Early controlled movement:

after the initial 48-72 hours, you should initiate controlled movement. The research shows that early movement limits the size of the scar, helps with alignment of the regenerating muscle fibres and helps regain strength of the calf. An eg of something you can perform is a simple toe raise at the edge of a table

Avoid early static stretching:

Static stretches are important in the rehab phase but should be avoided until at least 10 days after the injury. Research shows that by day 10, the connective scar tissue can withstand the forces of the stretches

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