Calf Muscle – Guide to Injuries, Causes, Prevention & Rehabilitation
Calf injuries most at times, occurs due to quick push in movement or it can be an excessive stretching of the calf muscle or it can be a quick change in direction. This article will be outlining some of the calf injuries such as calf muscle pain, calf strain, calf cramps, and calf contusion. Following these injuries will be the causes, symptoms and treatment. It is best to have a full knowledge of these injuries.
The calf which has its Latin name to be “Sura” is located at the back of the lower leg in a human body. The muscles around the calf is similar to the posterior compartment of the leg. There is a muscles that makes up this compartment and is known as the calf muscle. These muscles is attached to the heel through the Achilles tendon. The calf muscle, which is situated at the back of the lower leg is made up of two muscles. The gastrocnemius and the soleus.
Gastrocnemius Muscle: This is the largest calf muscle and it forms the bulge vision under the skin. It has two parts which ends up creating a diamond shape. Gastrocnemius muscle is located at the back of the leg with soleus. The functionality of gastrocnemius muscle is that it helps in the flexing of the foot at the ankle joint and also flexing the leg towards the knee joint.
The main primary function of gastrocnemius muscle involves running, jumping and other activities that involves the fast movement of the leg and the muscle is less involve during walking and standing. The reason for this is the predominance of the white muscle fibres that is present in the gastrocnemius unlike soleus which has more of red muscle fibre than the white muscle fiber.
Gastrocnemius muscle can be prone to spasms and it can be very painful because it is an involuntary contractions which can take several minutes.it may become inflamed because it has been overuse. The inflammation can be treated with the use of anti-inflammatory medications and some physical therapy like massage and stretching.
Soleus Muscle: This is the smaller and flat muscles which lies underneath the gastrocnemius muscle. In human beings and some particular mammals, the soleus is seen as a very powerful muscle at the back part of the lower leg (calf). Soleus runs through the knee to the heel and its functionality involves standing and walking. Soleus and gastrocnemius are closely connected, some anatomist classify them to be a single muscle.
In considering calf muscle, soleus contributes a lot to the increase in the angle between the foot and the leg. This is a powerful muscle that is vital in walking and standing which eventually help in keeping balance. If not for the constant pull of the body by soleus, the body could have been falling forward. In addition to this, in the standing position, the soleus helps in the pumping of the venous blood into the heart from the periphery. This action is often called the skeletal muscle pump. The proportion of slow muscle fibre is high in soleus than in any other muscle. The most effective muscle that helps when knee is bend is the soleus.
Calf Muscle Conditions
Calf Muscle Pain.
Calf muscle pain can occur as the result of injury. It can also be a chronic medical condition or the nerves or the arteries at the lower leg is having problems. Some calf pain might be from minor grade 1 calf strain and other might be from the muscle itself and could be a serious problem and this should be treated with caution.
Causes of Calf Muscle Pain
The cause of calf muscle pain are much but there are some major causes of the pain of which we are outlining below. The outline will cover the most common cause of calf pain and also the less common cause of calf pain. We will also be discussing some more serious conditions that can result in calf pain. Conditions like Deep Vein thrombosis (DVT).
- Calf Strain: This is a tear of the calf muscle fibres. The tear can be mild or can be severe. This injury occurs due to an excessive stretch of the calf muscles. This is the most common cause of calf pain. This particular injury happens mostly to people that runs (athletes), basket ballers, and tennis player. When a person try to change from a stationary position or wants to change direction quickly he places a huge force on the muscle and a calf strain can occur.
- Achilles tendonitis: The inflammation or degradation of the Achilles tendon can cause calf muscle pain. The tendon (Achilles tendon) is six inches long approximately and it is connected to the calf muscles down to the heel. Achilles is not too flexible but very strong and this makes it very prone to damage most especially at the weak stage of the calf muscle. The pain caused by Achilles tendon might be thickening the tendon and it is important to note that Achilles tendon has a poor blood supply therefore, recovery from the pain may take months. Treating Achilles tendonitis will involves exercises, rest, orthotics and injections.
- Calf Cramps: This is sometimes refer to as “Charley Horse” in North America. This situation happens when there is involuntary spasms that occurs in the lower leg which eventually causes calf pain. It is possible for cramps to last for just few seconds but in a serious case, it may last for days coming on and off. The major cause of calf cramp are vitamin/mineral imbalance, muscle fatigue, diet, and dehydration. In most cases, the cramp is not cause by something that is too serious and but it can be really painful. The possible treatment for cramps is exercises, stretching, massaging and good diet.
- DVT: This means Deep Vein Thrombosis and this can be a serious calf pain. This is the formation of blood clot in a deep vein especially at the calf or thigh. Immediate medical treatment should be carried out in order to reduce blood flow to the foot. The risk of the blood clot breaking off and travelling through the blood stream down to the heart or lungs which can cause heart attack or pulmonary embolus is very possible. Some of the common signs of DVT are redness, warmth, and swelling in the calf region and the pain tends to be more if you pull your legs upward. DVT most often, is developed after surgery or during a period of inactivity, like plane journey and it can also be cause by genetics link.
- Muscle Imbalance: The weakness and tightness of the calf muscle is the common cause of calf pain. If a muscle is weak, it will quickly get tired when you are on your feet for a long period of time so, there is need for you to work on both strength and endurance of the calf muscle.
When to see a doctor.
You can make an appointment with the doctor when you are not too sure of the cause of your symptoms and you do not know the specific treatment for the condition.
- Unable to walk comfortably on the affected side
- Injury on the lower leg that can cause deformity
- Calf pain in the night and during rest period in the day
- Calf pain that last for days
- The calf area is swelling up
- Fever, redness, warmth and other signs of infection.
Treatment for calf pain
Treating calf muscle pain is totally dependent on the cause of the pain. Therefore, it is vital to be able to know the cause of the pain before going for any treatment program. If you are not sure of your diagnosis, or not too sure of the severity of the condition, it is advisable you seek medical advice before you begin ant treatment program. Some common treatment of calf muscle pain include the following;
- Rest: Rest the muscle and allow the inflammation to subside. In some cases, this is the only treatment that is needed to relieve the pain.
- Ice and Heat Application: This is one of the most commonly used treatment for calf pain. For more explanation check calf strain below.
- Stretching: To stretch the muscles and tendons can be of great help to the reduction of calf pain. To be able to completely reduce the pain completely, a good stretching routine should be establish.
- Physical Therapy: All orthopaedic conditions needs physical therapy. Therapist may use different techniques in order to increase strength and regain mobility as the case may be.
- Anti-Inflammatory Medication: Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Medications which is commonly known as NSAIDS are some of the most prescribed medications for runners suffering from calf pain. The best thing is that most times, calf pain does not need surgery.
Calf Muscle Strain (Muscle Tear)
Muscle strain, muscle pull, muscle tear happens when there is a damage of the muscle that is situated at the back of the lower. The muscle can be inflamed as a result of excessive strain or overuse of force on the muscle and possibly the surrounding tendons. Undue pressure can be placed on the muscle during daily activities, it can also happen during sport or while performing a particular work. Some of the most common ways that the injury can occur is through running, jumping, football, tennis, and squash. This is due to the speed in acceleration from a stationary point to another.
It is mostly seen that the injury is caused by the overuse of the muscle, it can also be seen that the injury can also occur as the result of over stretching. This might occur during warm up exercise due to some inadequate level of activities before the warm up. Calf muscle strain is most similar to Achilles tendon tear or rupture, but this is (muscle strain) is occurring at the back of the leg. Also, the sign it brings is similar to that of Achilles tendon rupture. It is possible to think that it is just a hit on your leg which you might hear a “pop”. After this, a sudden pain, swelling or bruises at the affected position will be seen and experienced and the possibility of having difficulty walking or standing on your toes is very high.
Symptoms of Calf Muscle Strain and Diagnosis.
To properly diagnose a calf strain injury, a proper and thorough assessment is required. The major cause of calf strain injury is overdue stretching that will strain the muscle excessively. However, there are other conditions that might be the cause of the injury. To be able to determine the cause of the injury, a full assessment should be carried out in order to help the therapist to determine the cause.
Symptoms of calf strain can come in different ways and forms but there is one general sign that always occur which is the occurrence of sharp pain at the back of the lower. At the point of the injury, the calf muscle will be tender to touch, it will swell up and will have bruises within few hours or days of injury. A runner may be able to continue running and exercise depending on how bad the calf injury is. If the injury is not too bad and severe, the runner may continue with the running but he/she will be experiencing some discomfort/tightness during and after the session. On the other hand, if the injury is severe, the runner may be unable to walk nor exercise due to the severe pain experienced. The increase in pain is as the result of the muscle becoming inflamed and swollen and in most severe case, muscle spasms can occur. If it is pressure or force on the tendon that cause the injury, the pain will come suddenly at the point of the injury.
A runner suffering from the calf strain is likely to feel aching and stiffness which will become more obvious in the morning and the calf will be weak thus, making the runner to be unable to resume training. In summary, the following are the outlined symptoms of calf strain.
- Sharp pain at the lower leg
- Pain and ache at the mid-calf
- Pains when standing in toes
- Having a sensation of being hit at the back of the lower leg
- Having a burning and stabbing sensation.
- There is an inflammation of the lower leg
- A lump can develop due to internal bleeding
- Having difficulty bearing weight
Calf strain has been graded in 3 grades according to its severity. A grade 1 calf strain is seen not to require professional treatment but grade 2 and 3 calf strain may require more professional and specialist treatment and rehabilitation according to its severity.
Grade 1 symptoms: This type of calf strain has a minor tear that only affect 25% of the muscle fibres. The runner may be feeling a little pain in the back of the lower leg or the feeling can be tightness. They may continue running without feeling any pain or any discomfort in the calf. But after the daily activities, tightness or aching of the calf muscle may occur but this will take up to 24 hours to develop.
Grade 2 symptoms: Grade 2 symptoms has more severity than grade 1 symptoms. Up to 90% of the muscle fibres is torn and a sharp pain at the back of the lower leg will occur. Severe and significant pain will be experienced while trying to walk. This is due to the swelling of the calf muscle together with the bruises, but it will take hours for the bruises to be visible. The calf muscle will be experiencing tightness and aching for up to two weeks before the tightness subsides.
Grade 3 symptoms: This particular grade involves 90 to 100% muscle fibres. This means that 90 to 100% of the muscle fibre is affected and is often referred to a “rupture”. The runner will be able to recall when the injury occur and it will be associated with severe pain at the back of the lower leg. In this circumstance, the runner will totally be unable to continue running and will even be unable to walk due to the weakness of the calf and the pain. At this level, the injury comes with bruises and swelling, though this will be visible after some few hours. While conducting strength test, the runner will be unable to contract the calf muscle at all because it the muscle has been ruptured completely.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): The MRI scanner is capable of creating a highly detailed images of the calf muscle and other structures of the leg. The image generated from the MRI will guide the doctor or the therapist on what how the design treatment program for the runner.
- Computed Tomography (CT scan): This scan will be taking multiple X-ray of which the computer will compile them and create an image of the calf muscle and other structure of the leg.
- Calf Muscle Ultrasound: This device is placed on the skin and it bounces a high frequency sound waves of the calf muscles, tendon, and other structure of the body. This signal will be converted into image on the video screen allowing the therapist to see the structures insides the body.
When to see a Doctor.
If the injury is significant and the home remedies seems not relief the pain within 24 hours, it is advisable to call your doctor. In addition to this, if you hear a “popping” sound the first time the injury happens, and it has led to your inability to walk, or there is a severe swelling and you are experiencing severe pain, fever or an open cuts, you should go to the hospital for examination by the emergency department.
P.R.I.C.E Therapy: The application of P.R.I.C.E therapy is important. Applying cold therapy and compressing the injury as soon as possible will help to control internal bleeding. 10 – 15 minutes every hour can be used to apply the cold therapy. This will help in reducing the frequency of pain and the swelling of the injury.
What is P.R.I.C.E therapy?
This therapy involves some key components that is required in the prevention of further injury and helps in the healing process of the muscle. If the application of these components is done correctly, it can help reduce the recovery period of the injury.
P.R.I.C.E is an abbreviation for:
R – Rest
I – Ice
E – Elevation.
Protection: It is important to protect the damaged muscle from further injury and also help in starting the healing process efficiently and effectively. There are many ways that can be used in protecting injured areas with the same purpose of limiting further movement and use of muscle. One particular way to achieve this is by using support or splint.
Rest: At the early stage of the injury, it is important to take rest. Rest is one of the most important component of the P.R.I.C.E therapy but this particular component has often been neglected. Taking rest does not only involve the time the runner was injured but it also involve the period after injury. A runner must be able to know the time to stop running in order to allow the injured area to heal otherwise, the injury that seem to be a minor injury can turn into a more severe injury that can keep the runner out from activities for a long period of time. This could have been prevented through adequate rest and treatment when the injury first started. In the course of running, if an injury is sustain, some runners may decide to ignore it and continue running with the impression that the injury will go away while continuing in the exercise. This impression is not advisable.
There is every possibility that continuing in an exercise with an injury can lessen the pain. This can only happen because of some factors. In exercising, there are some nerves impulse that are sent because of the mechanical stress and this can over-ride the pains impulses that are sent from the affected nerves. This phenomenon is called “the pain gate theory”. In addition to this factor, another factor such as the runner’s mentality and presence of adrenaline during exercising plays a vital role in over-riding pain from injury. After the activity, the pain will come back because the tissue itself is still damaged and it could cause another serious injury because of the continued activity. That is why it is advisable to take a rest from exercise and treat an existing injury no matter how minor it might be. The severity of the injury will determine the degree of rest the runner needs to take.
Ice: Ice therapy also known as crytherapy is seen as one of the most widely known therapy and it is used in the treatment of most injuries suffered during sporting activities. This therapy is cheap, easy to use and the time require for its preparation is very little.
Applying ice to an injury can drastically decrease the extent of the damage. Ice therapy can achieve the following when applied:
- It can reduce the amount of bleeding by simply closing the blood vessel. This process is called vasoconstriction.
- It reduces the pain through pain gate theory.
- It reduces muscle spasm.
- It will reduce the risk of death cell through the reduction in the rate of metabolism.
Try to be icing the affected area for 15 minutes every hour. Ice is to be applied at the injured site using a bag that is filled with the crushed ice and is wrapped with a damp towel. Using a damp towel is important because it will form a barrier between the bag of ice and the skin and will be able to reduce the risk of an ice burn. The ice should not be left on the injured spot for more than 15 minutes.
Compression: Compression, if applied well has the ability to minimize the amount of swelling that is formed on an injury and it should be applied within the first 24 to 72 hours of the injury. There are two benefits that is attached to compressing an injury.
Firstly, at the point of compressing the injury, the pressure increases within the tissue and the blood vessel will be narrowed through this process and it will eventually prevent excessive bleeding. Secondly, the amount of fluid the body produces can be moderated in order to protect the injured tissue. This process is called exudate.
In the application of compression, there are different methods to use but the most effective method is the use of compression bandage which is elastic in nature and can simply fit around the injured calf. Using compression bandage has its advantages which happens to be the simplicity of applying it, the elastic material gives sufficient pressure that is needed to stop bleeding.
Elevation: Though this is the final component in the P.R.I.C.E therapy, it is also very important. Elevation is to allow gravity to drain out the fluid at the injured spot. This helps in reducing the swelling which will in turn reduce the pain that is associated with the swelling. Raise up the strained leg while sitting down.
Professional treatment from Doctor.
Anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen may be prescribe to the runner by a doctor or medical professional. This anti-inflammatory drugs will be beneficial in the first in the first few days after the injury. A runner who is asthmatic should not take ibuprofen and should always make sure he/she speaks to the pharmacist or doctor before taking medications. According to some evidence, it is stated that anti-inflammatory can delay healing of the injury and it is advisable not to take the drugs more than a few days after the injury. Sometimes, medications can “mask” pain and this can be dangerous to the healing process.
Equipment like ultrasound can be applied to the injured calf. Ultrasound transmit a high frequency of sound wave to the tissues of which can help in pain relief and reduce swelling at the early stage of the injury. Ultrasound waves can cause a micro massaging of the muscle which will help in stimulating blood flow into the muscle.
A soft massage can be applied after the conclusion of the acute phase. It should be noted that massage should not be done in the first 5 days post injury so as to avoid bleeding in the area. Some of the benefits of massaging include, blood flow stimulation, the stretching of the muscle releases the area of spasm in the muscle. Another benefit of massage is that it soften the newly formed tissue and help in the alignment of the newly formed fibres in order to encourage effective muscle healing and also prevent further injury.
There are some structured rehabilitation program that are important for the recovery from calf strain. Here is an outline of a calf strain rehabilitation schedule that span from grade 1 to grade 3 calf strain.
This grade of injury has a minor tear that takes up to 10% of the muscle fibres.
Stage 1: Day 0 from time of injury:
Get much rest as possible. Apply ice for 15 minutes every 2 -3 hours. Be sure that the ice is wrap in a wet towel to prevent skin burn. After the ice application, apply compression bandage in order to help reduce swelling and bleeding. Try putting your leg up for a while you read about the possible treatment and rehabilitation for the injury is it takes long to be heal. By elevating the leg, swelling will be reduce and blood will run from the injured muscle.
Stage 2: Day 3 since injury
If it is possible and comfortable try including calf strain exercises but let it be done gently between 3-5 times in a day. Begin with active stretching and in a situation that the exercise is painful stop and make an appointment with a therapist who can perform some massage techniques. The use of ultrasound can be beneficial in reducing swelling and also relax the muscle. Continue resting and continue wearing the compression bandage.
Stage 3: Days 7 since injury.
Continue with the daily stretching. The use of calf stretcher will be very useful in aiding stretching. Continue with sport massaging if necessary. In the course of time the muscle will get stronger, the massage technique should also become deeper.
Grade 2 injury.
This is a more severe tear which involves 90% of the muscle fibres.
Stage 1: day 0
Get much rest and if necessary use crutches. Ice should be applied for at least 15 minutes in every 2-3 hours. Try to use the compression bandage to reduce the bleeding and swelling. Put your leg up. Elevating the leg will redirect blood flow away from the injured spot and reduces swelling. Once you begin to feel comfortable, start doing some active stretch.
Stage 2: Days 7
Be consistent in wearing the compression bandage and continue to rest. Try some gentle stretch. Instead of using ice, try using hot or cold therapy alternatively for 20-30 minuets 3 times in a day.
Stage 3: Days 14
To strengthen the calf muscles you can start performing some calf strengthening exercises like resistance band plantarflexion later proceed to calf raises exercise then to single leg calf raises exercise. Stretch regularly and massage often. Slowly introduce running into the program.
Grade 3 injury
This is the most severe calf strain and it is sometimes called calf muscle rupture. When this kind of injury happens, you need to stop everything (running) and rest immediately. If you are bothered that the muscle has been ruptured, you can go straight to the doctor. If the muscle has been ruptured it therefore means that the injury will require operation in order to repair and rehabilitate the injured muscle.
This is an involuntary contraction of the muscle and can be very painful and also cause muscle damage if it is a severe cramp. It is a painful and involuntary spasm which in most cases happens involuntarily or when the runner did not expect it to happen. Though the pain can be short lived but it can really be unpleasant and the recovery may take few days. Calf cramp mostly affect runners that trains hard at some point.
Causes of calf cramp
- Lack of vitamins and minerals: When the body lacks the necessary vitamins and mineral to function properly, calf cramp may happen. The imbalance of vitamins and minerals can cause calf cramps.
- Calcium: This helps in the transmission of nerves impulses to the muscle cell and also allow the muscle to contract and relax normally. Much intake of caffeine may reduce calcium level.
- Vitamin E: This vitamin promote good circulation and also facilitates the production of red blood cells. Inadequate vitamin E can reduce oxygen level in the muscle.
- Potassium: Hypokalaemia is the name given to a low potassium level situation. The cause might be from excess vomiting, sweating even kidney problems and medication.
- Vitamin D: This helps in the absorption of calcium and magnesium and can be gotten through a fifteen minutes sunlight in the morning.
- Magnesium: Lacking magnesium may cause calcium and sodium to be locked inside the muscle and this might prevent the muscle from relaxing.
- Vitamin B6: This vitamin is vital for the nerves and muscle.
- Dehydration: too much of smoking and drinking of alcohol increases the risk of dehydration and too much sweating decrease the level of calcium, potassium and magnesium.
- Mediation: There are some medication that can cause cramp as its side effect. One of such medication is Diuretics commonly known as water pills, and it increases the production of urine which in turn causes an imbalance in calcium and potassium.
- Lack of Exercise: Lack of exercise can cause muscle weakness and obesity of which both increase the risk of calf cramp.
- Muscle Tightness: When the calf muscle is tight, it can cause calf cramps. When the foot muscle is tight especially for runners it can also cause cramp.
There are a few number of things that can help in reducing the pain and the frequency of calf cramp.
- Massage: If the affected area is massaged, it will help in relaxing the affected muscle thereby reducing the cramp. Massage will increase the circulation to the muscle thus, increasing blood flow, oxygen and nutrient level and also diverting harmful waste product such as lactic acid. Massaging the muscle from the back of the calf will help reduce the calf cramp.
- Heat: Try applying heat to the affected area. The heat can be applied using heat pad or warm water which will help to relax the muscle and increase blood flow while the pain reduces.
- Stretching: One of the best and short-term treatment for calf muscle cramps is stretching. Soft and gentle stretching at the period of the cramp will help in alleviating the symptoms and stretching regularly will helping total prevention of calf cramp.
- Balance Diet: Healthy eating and eating a balanced food helps in ensuring that vitamins and minerals are balance thus, helping in the improvement and proper functioning of the nerves and muscles.
- Increase water intake: Taking much water helps in preventing dehydration which is important especially during hot weather or during exercise.
Calf Muscle contusion.
This is a bruise that results from a direct impact or blow. The muscle is often crushed against the bone. It is very common among people that plays contact sports. If the injury is not treated immediately and correctly or if treated aggressively, it may result in myositis ossificans.
There are two types of contusion and there are as follows:
- Intramuscular Contusion: This is a tear of the muscle within the sheath surrounding the muscle. Meaning that the bleeding may stop early at the initial stage. This is because of the pressure within the muscle though the fluid could not pass out because the sheath is blocking it. The result to this is, lost in functionality and pains of which it can take days or weeks to recover. In this type of contusion, bruises might not be visible especially at the early stage.
- Intermuscular Contusion: This is the tearing of the muscle including part of the sheath surrounding it. This simply means that the initial bleeding will take a longer period to stop especially if ice has not been applied. Recovery to this type of contusion is faster than intramuscular contusion since the blood can rush out from the injury site and bruises is more likely to be seen.
Symptoms of Contusion.
- Experiencing pain because of the impact on the leg.
- Swelling and bruises.
- Movement restriction.
Symptoms after two to three days.
- Between the two to three days, if the swelling stops then it is possible that you have an intramuscular contusion.
- If there is bruises caused by the bleeding, then it is possible that you have intermuscular contusion.
- If you can contract the muscle then the injury is intermuscular contusion
It is vital that, correct diagnosis be done because if exercise is done with a ruptured muscle, it may result in total disability.
Grades of calf contusion and treatments
Contusion has grades just like calf muscle strain and the grade is from one to three.
- Experience tightness at the back of the lower leg.
- You can possibly work properly
- No too much of swelling
- Pushing up with your toes might not produce any pain.
- You can have a nearly full range of motion.
What the runner can do.
- Rest, ice, compression and elevation (R.I.C.E) immediately.
Treatment from Doctor
- Starts massaging using sport techniques to speed up the recovery. This is important.
- Can use ultrasound for stimulation
- Can possibly prescribe a rehabilitation program.
- You might be able to walk
- A twinges of pain might occur during activities and it might be occasional
- Swelling may not be noticed
- Pushing up using tip toes may be painful
- May have limited movement.
- What the runner can do.
What the runner can do.
- Ice, compress and elevate
- Use crutches for about a3 to 5 days
Treatments from doctor
- Can massage using sport techniques
- Use ultrasound stimulation
- Prescribe rehabilitation program
- Without the aid of crutches, you will be unable to walk properly.
- You will experience severe pains.
- Bad swelling will immediately appear.
- You might be out of physical activities for 3 to 12 weeks
What the runner can do.
- In week 1, try seeking for medical attention immediately
- Practice Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate (R.I.C.E) while still using crutches.
- Get an appointment with a doctor or an injury professional for advice on rehabilitation.
Treatments from doctor
- Doctor will start with massaging using the sport technique just to speed up recovery.
- Also use ultrasound for stimulation
- Prescribe a rehabilitation program for you while he/she monitors it
- You might be operation if need be.
To have a great looking calves, there are some simple but effective exercises that will help in strengthening your calf muscles. The target of this exercise will be the two muscle that makes up the calf. The following are exercises that can be done to strengthen the calf.
- Double – leg calf raise: This is one of the classic calf strengthening exercise. It uses your body weight in strengthening both gastrocnemius and soleus.
Starting position: Position yourself near the wall in order to gain balance and place your feet hip-width apart and try to make sure that your ankles and knees together with your hips are in a vertical alignment in order to protect your joint.
Action: Start pressing down in to the balls of both feet to be able to raise your body upward and try to keep your abdominal muscles pulled in so as to help you move straight upward instead of shifting your body forward and backward.
- Single – leg calf raise: You can choose to increase the intensity of the exercise by simply doing it on one leg but make sure that your ankle, knee and hip are well position in a vertical alignment just to protect your joint.
Starting position: Stand near the wall with one leg and the other leg bent behind you. Try to keep the ankle, knee and hip of the leg you are working on aligned vertically.
Action: With the ball of your feet, press down and raise your body upward. Try to keep the abdominal muscles pulled to avoid shifting.
- Seated calf raise: This exercise can be done either at home or at the gym using a calf exercise machine. This exercise works for both muscles. (gastrocnemius and soleus)
Starting position: Sit firm on a sturdy chair and make your feet to remain flat on the floor. Make your knee to be aligned directly over your feet, avoid making your knee to turn in and out, place your hands on your thighs near your knees pushing down for additional resistance while you lean forward.
Action: Slowly press using the balls of your feet to raise your heels as high as possible and also slowly lower your heels. Do this repeatedly.
At the gym:
Starting position: Position yourself in the calf machine as the ball of your feet is place on the platform. This will allow you to lower the heel to the floor.
Action: Try to drop your heels as far as you can towards the floor in order to lower the weight and then, press in the balls of your feet to be able to raise your heels as high as possible.
- Gastrocnemius stretch: Stretching gastrocnemius muscles, you must start by placing the back leg straight. Be sure that you are putting the leg that is to be stretched at the back and place your hands on the wall at a shoulder height. Bend the front knee as you lean forward and the back knee still remains straight as you are pushing the heel down into the floor.
- Soleus muscle stretch: To be able to stretch the soleus muscle, the knee of the leg that is to be stretched must be bent. The reason is that soleus muscle is attached below the knee and in bending the knee, gastrocnemius muscles is relax therefore, allowing the soleus muscle to be stretch. Try leaning against the wall with the leg that is to be stretch placed at the back. Start bending the knee as you keep the heel in contact with the ground until you the stretch.
The following guidelines will help while exercising and will make the exercise session safe and effective.
- Perform the exercises consistently at least two to three times in a week.
- While exercising, try to move slowly so that you will be able to stay aware of your body alignment.
- Customize your exercise to be able to match your level of fitness in order to avoid injury.
- Gradually increase the level of load on the muscle.
- Confirm with your doctor whether you have a history of foot, ankle, or calf muscle injury.
- The exercises must be done according to your health status.
From the above writing, it is very clear that calf injury can be a very serious and dangerous injury that has the capacity to limits one training ability. It is also clear that being injured is and inevitable situation where every runner is expose to such risk but it vital to also to understand that the way and approach we treat and manage our injuries will determine our next sporting activities. Therefore, it is very vital to treat our injuries with utmost care and seriousness no matter how minor it might be. From the above article, many treatment measures has been mentioned like P.R.I.C.E therapy, massaging, ultrasound stimulation, and many others. These treatment measures are listed to guide us back into our daily sporting activities therefore it is important to follow the process carefully.
The information contained in this article are research work of top professionals like doctors and other medical professionals, despite this, the content of this article should not be used as a professional adviser to and situation. It is advisable that whenever you suffer an injury you should consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment.
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