What is a Calf Strain
There are two main muscles that make up your calf; the larger one is our gastrocnemius and the deeper one known is our soleus. Both are very important in all running and jumping movements as they are the main muscle group that propels the body forward. Calf strains can occur in both explosive movements where you may feel a distinct ‘ping’ or after a build-up of stress over time.
The main symptoms for a calf strain are pain and tenderness on the back of your lower leg. Other symptoms may include:
- A feeling of weakness or tightness in the lower leg
- Difficulty walking or jogging
- Difficulty coming onto your tippy-toes
If you suspect you have sustained a calf injury, you may apply ice (for pain relief), use a compression bandage and/or elevate the area to reduce pain. However, movement is key! Try to continue gentle movements with the knee and ankle, working within a mostly pain free range. This is especially important in the early stages of injury!
Treatment in our clinic will largely depend on your presentation and what your goals are e.g. returning to running or sport. Although it is individualised per person, management for a calf strain will usually involve a combination of hands-on therapy and a progressive strength training program.
If you are an athlete who plays a sport involving running, jumping and landing you will also be exposed to plyometric based exercises later during your recovery. These types of exercises mimic the demands of your sport and will ensure you are back playing at your highest performance. Practicing these movements will also help to reduce the risk of re-injury in the future!