I remember being 25 (not too long ago) and men in their 40’s would see me with stories like; ‘I was playing soccer with my son and ran for the ball and felt this ‘pop’ in the back of my leg’…Or women, for example, who had made a return to the netball court after having kids finding they were getting slowly worsening pain in their calf as the season went on. Well, now I have my own story! Having increased my running in preparation for a 10km race I did a flat 10km from Town Beach Port Macquarie and got my own calf tear!
My Sports Physiotherapy advice: For Gastrocnemius/Calf Muscle Injury
If you have a calf tear then rest it until you can walk normally. If severe you may need crutches for a few days.
Start to strengthen it by doing double calf raises (going up on your toes), but don’t force into pain. Once you can do 3 sets of 15, you can start doing some single leg raises (all your body weight provides the load). Around this time build in some walking for 20 mins. Avoid uneven surfaces like sand in the early stages. If you can walk at a good speed for 30 mins start to think about POWER= Strength x Speed
Stairs – walk several sets
Get some flippers and do kicking down at the Port Macquarie Pool
Calf raises with weight in a backpack/bar/dumbells
Calf raise machine at your gym
Jog up and downstairs
Hopping and jumping
Dance moves with the kids listening to some workout tunes
You see the pain goes away and we think its healed, but for an optimal outcome we actually have to use exercise to stimulate it to heal with good alignment and specificity. So when you need to sprint for that ball or go for a big jump at netball you don’t re-tearing it.
You can also use these ideas to prevent calf tear, especially if you are my age..when this injury is most common.
Remember: POWER = Speed x Strength. If you need advice for optimal recovery contact me through my website www.melturnerphysio.com.au
For further info about gastrocnemius tears see page 489 of this article
Gallo, R. A., Plakke, M., & Silvis, M. L. (2012). Common Leg Injuries of Long-Distance Runners: Anatomical and Biomechanical Approach. Sports Health, 4(6), 485–495. http://doi.org/10.1177/