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Calf Strain (Gastrocnemius)

What is Calf Strain (Gastrocnemius)?

The calf complex is made up of two muscles, Gastorcnemius and Soleus. The most superficial of the two is the one commonly injured in an explosive or take off position and will often give you a sudden ‘shot in the leg’ sensation. Calf strains or ‘tears’ can be minor and you can continue with a shorter walking stride, or can render you unable to walk. Calf strain can occur due to inadequate warm up, fatigue, faulty biomechanics, poor footwear or lack of strength. There can also be involvement from your back (Lumbar Spine).

How long will it last?

An acute simple calf strain can settle and you can return to sport if a concerted program has been completed over 3-4 weeks. If your practitioner finds that there are contributing factors from your hip or spine then recovery may take longer and a program may need to be followed for your sporting season. Resting the calf without a specific strengthening / running conditioning program may lead to re injury. Rest alone is not recommended for calf strain and weakness will follow if a program is not performed.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Calf Strain are:

  • Sudden sharp pain at the back of the shin. Swelling will commence immediately.
  • Immediate loss of power.
  • Pain with walking in the acute phase (first 72 hours).

Suggestions for managing Calf Strain

  • R.I.C.E. regime - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation in the acute stage (first 72 hours). This may continue for the first week if gentle exercise is allowed.
  • Calf exercise programs can commence after the first 72 hours of your injury if it is a low grade (Grd 1) injury. Grd 2 & 3 injuries will need a more concerted program over a 6 - 8 week period. We recommend anindividual assessment of how to perform the correct calf strengthening program.
  • Your practitioner may refer you to a Sports Physician for further investigations if your calf strain does not respond in our suggested time frames.

Professional treatment options

Contact us now for immediate advice regarding calf strain.