Calf Strain Symptoms
In the event of a calf strain, Calf Pull or Coupe de Fouet, a small strain occurs in the muscle tissue during tightening of the muscle. The tear is usually small (1-3 cm) and is often right on the transition from muscle to tendon tissue. Blood vessels often rupture. A strain can occur in any muscle. The most common form is a calf strain or leg muscle strain. An acute muscle tear can occur in any muscle, for example in the neck, shoulder, back, foot, leg, hip, knee, ankle, buttock and arm.
Common muscle tear symptoms of a calf strain include:
- Sharp stabbing pain in the calf when contracting and stretching
- Muscle aches remain in the calves after the activity has stopped
- Light swelling
- Bruising, usually a little lower than the injury because gravity pushes the bruise down
- Loss of function of the affected muscle
- Possible visible cavity or notch right at the tear
- With an increase of pain in the calf and swelling of the leg there might be a thrombosis. With these symptoms, see your doctor immediately to avoid further complications
Causes of Calf Strain
In general, calf pull usually occurs during exercise. The muscles become overstretched, causing a sudden jolt of pain in the calf. This is due to the sudden vigorous tensing of muscles when taking off, running, jumping or accelerating. This is when the muscle tear calf develops. A common type of calf strain is overstretching the calf muscle when running. The painful calf feeling is described as if someone hits the calf with a whip. Hence the name “whiplash” or “coup de fouet”. Due to a muscle tear in the calf, it is usually not possible to continue exercising or to stand on the affected leg.
It is thought that reduced capacity of muscle tissue at older age is the main cause of a strained muscle. Various factors probably play a role in the occurrence of a calf strain. For example, cold, humid weather conditions, inadequate and one-sided training, hard surfaces, poor footwear, skipping or insufficient warm-up and making uncoordinated and explosive movements.
How to avoid Calf Strain
How to prevent whiplash? Of all possibilities, the warm-up is of great importance to prepare the muscles. Research has shown that athletes who have warmed up for at least 10 minutes are less likely to sustain a calf strain. Experience has also shown that athletes who complain of painful or stiff calf muscles before exercising have an increased risk.
Your Calf Strain Treatment
If you suffer from calf pain, it is important to immediately elevate the injury and cool it. For example, sit on a couch with your legs on the couch and a pillow under the painful leg. You can cool using ice cubes in a plastic bag or with an ‘ice pack’. Wrap the ice in a towel to prevent the skin from freezing. Let it rest on the painful area for about 10 minutes and repeat it 4-5 times within 24 hours. Cooling reduces the pain.
Calf Strain Exercises
It is important not to strain the muscles during the first days up to a week after the injury. If after some time you can move again without pain, or with significantly less pain it is probably just a minor injury. To speed up the healing process, you can try to perform light loosening movements of the ankle in all directions.
Stretching exercises also work well. Wrap a towel around the front of your foot, then slowly pull the foot towards your leg. A slight pain sensation may occur in the beginning. Add a little more strain each next day, until your calf is completely pain-free. If you can walk again after 1 or 2 days without pain, it is not a serious strain and no further exercises are necessary. Be extra careful with sports and gradually rebuild it.
Should you make a Doctor’s Appointment?
If you are unable to move with less pain the next day or days, or your leg is more painful and swollen, make an appointment with your doctor.
Treatment Methods for Calf Strain
With manual therapy, the manual therapist will massage your calves. The painful area will become more flexible and the swelling will decrease for a faster recovery. Physiotherapists can stretch your muscle with the help of massages, which will increase the muscle length again. The massage gives the body an extra stimulus to restore the imbalance in the calf. The physio can then choose to tape the injured calf to provide extra support. Under supervision, you will be encouraged to stimulate the muscles again. A build-up exercise program for strength and mobility trains the muscles until you can resume the sporting activity again. A small tear can heal in 2 weeks. With a larger crack, the calf strain recovery can take about 6 to 10 weeks.
Communicate with the physiotherapist
It is important during the treatment period to communicate well with your physiotherapist about the afterpain you may experience. After treatment, the calf could be more painful than before. This period should not exceed 24 hours. The physiotherapist can adjust the intensity of the treatment based on the afterpain. The homework exercises will mainly focus on three points: strength, stretching, and coordination.
We recommend to not walk around with calf strain symptoms for too long without treatment. With no or insufficient treatment, scar tissue can appear in the torn muscles, causing them to weaken forever. With physiotherapy you will increase the chance that the injury does not come back.
Treatment methods that we use to treat calf pulls are:
- Medical Taping
- Manual Therapy
- Massage Therapy
- Calf Strain Taping
- Calf Exercises
- Compression stocking
“I went to this physiotherapist for a calf strain. I have been helped very well. Verbally on how to treat this injury and physically by actually taping my calf. It was a minor injury and I was able to continue my exercises after the second time. Furthermore, I was advised to download the app “strengthen your ankle” and to do the exercises she recommended.” Zorgkaart Nederland – 21 January 2019
Request an Appointment at Fysio Masters
Do you currently have continuous calf pull symptoms and a lot of pain? Have a physiotherapist from Fysio Masters look at your injury and help you calf strain physiotherapy treatment. We have a lot of experience and have already seen hundreds of similar cases. Call us now with your questions or make an appointment without obligation! Do not hesitate to contact us.06-10343160 Whatsapp +31610343160 Book Online