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calf pain

Both acute and chronic calf pain often stem from injury to the calf muscle. The term ‘calf muscle’ refers to both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. These muscles have a joint tendon, the Achilles, which inserts onto the heel.

The most common site of injury is where the muscle fibres join those of the Achilles tendon.

This could be through sudden acceleration e.g. tennis, squash or through contusion (bruising through contact from other players or sporting equipment).


Most Common Causes:

•   Muscle strains of calves, mostly a constant pain when weight-bearing
•   Muscle Contusion
•   Muscle cramps due to fatigue
•   Referred pain from the lower back or other structures, mostly pain comes and goes
•   Delayed onset muscle soreness following unaccustomed physical activity.

History of any previous injuries is significant to determine the quality of treatment and rehabilitation as inadequately rehabilitated scar tissue can lead to re-injury.
Your initial aim after injury needs to be to reduce pain and swelling by:

Rest:  Crutches can be used to take some weight off the limb; attempt to limit walking
Ice:  Gel ice packs / frozen peas applied to the injured area for 15-20 min twice a day

•   Electrotherapy, e.g. TENS, ultra sound
•   Insertion of heel raisers in both shoes to de-load the calf muscle
•   Gentle maintenance of pain free movement of knee and ankle joints
•   Exercise programme should start after 24 hours and be progressed under supervision of the therapist
•   Soft tissue mobilisation
•   Rehabilitation of factors contributing to injury, e.g. poor biomechanics, calf tightness
•   Gradual sport-specific rehabilitation


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