What is it?
The calf muscle is made up of two bulky muscles at the back of your shin. A strain can occur when these muscles experience too much load or force than they can cope with. Calf strains often occur when performing activities that require you to push off the ground with your toes e.g. jumping or sprinting.
A minor injury could be classified as a strain, where there is very minimal and minor tearing of the muscle fibres, whereas a more serious injury can result in moderate or severe tears in the muscle fibres.Pain is often felt suddenly when the injury occurs and is reproduced when going up and down stairs, walking up an incline, and activities that require you to push up through your toes. As the muscle crosses over both the ankle and the knee joints, you may also feel stiff or unstable at these joints.
How is it diagnosed?
Getting a history and information about when and how the injury occurred is very important with muscle strains. The amount of pain, swelling, any loss of strength, and bruising is very useful in assessing the severity of the strain.
Your physio will test the strength of your calf and assess how much pain and restriction you’re feeling. Palpating your calf muscle can also indicate whether there is a significant tear or not.
How is it treated?
Soft tissue releases, dry needling and taping can often help with reducing inflammation, swelling, and pain associated with a strain. Mobilisation of the ankle joint may also be used if you’re feeling stiff. Exercises that promote strength, flexibility, and control are often used to help the calf recover.
Biomechanical issues such as how your hips, knees, and feet are moving, the type of footwear you use, and your technique when exercising e.g. running style, can also contribute to calf strains so your physio will be able to assess all of these things to make sure everything is working in the right direction for your rehab.
How long does it take to get better?
Minor strains may recover in 1-2 weeks whereas more serious strains and tears can often take longer, potentially up to 6-8 weeks.Your rehab goals and the activities you want to return to will help guide prognosis.
If you think you have suffered a calf injury, come and see us in the clinic today!