13 Mar CALF TEARS… The old mans injury, that doesn’t only happen to old men!
DO YOU SUSPECT YOU HAVE A CALF TEAR? CLICK HERE TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
Even though calf tears are known as the ‘old man’s injury’ they can happen on either end of the age spectrum. Let’s see if you can relate to either of these…
You’ve been building your running capacity, without building your strength capacity. You’re towards the end of your run, when you’re confronted with an almighty hill to finish you off… Half way up the hill you feel a ‘pop’ smack bang in the middle of your calf… The pain is instant, and you can no longer walk with a normal heel toe walking pattern… You’ve copped a calf tear!
You’re at (insert your sport here) training and it’s agility night. After a few reps weaving in and out of markers, running forwards and backwards your coach tells you to up the anti… You sprint to the first marker and run backwards to the second marker… As you go to push off to start running straight again.. BANG! Pain right in the middle of the calf, your walking is impeded and the pain increases…. You guessed it, you have a calf tear.
The calf muscle complex consists of two muscles, the soleus which is the deep but powerful muscle and the gastrocnemius, which is the bigger and more superficial muscle. Like the quadriceps and hamstrings the gastrocnemius crosses two joints being the knee and ankle, however the solus only crosses the ankle as it starts just below the knee. The role of our calf is to help bend the knee, but more importantly point our ankle so that we can walk on our toes (lift our heel off the ground).
The gastrocnemius muscle is the most frequently injured muscle at it’s musculotendinous junction (where the muscle meets the tendon), however there is increasing evidence to suggest that soleus tears are more common than we think.
There’s many reasons why people tear their calf that aren’t just related to age! Poor ankle range of motion, calf strength/capacity and running technique are all contributing factors in calf injuries. Unfortunately, In the clinic we find that a lot of runners aren’t complimenting their running programs with a progressive strength program, which means their muscles (calves) can’t cope and tissue failure becomes imminent.
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If you sustain a calf tear the RICE & NO HARM principles should be applied immediately (click here to read more on acute management of muscle tears). Physiotherapy treatment can be started on the day of the injury, with a focus on firstly restoring range of motion, then strength, before moving on to sport specific rehabilitation, with a focus on preventing a recurrence.
At Stride we’ve treated a large number of patients and athletes who have been unfortunate enough to sustain a calf tear. We understand that a number of calf injuries re-occur which is why we strongly focus on muscle length, strength and running technique.