This is an overuse injury resulting in a number of changes starting with thickening of the overlying fascia, stress reaction in the bone through to stress fracture of the tibia. Pain often occurs in the lower third of the tibia and starts with a dull aching which increases with intensity until relieved with rest, sharp stabbing pains can also be felt during exercise, again settling with rest.
It can progress until walking is painful and the pain is present at night. The condition is often difficult to treat and requires complete rest form running and exercises to maintain strength and improve flexibility of the lower leg muscles. Local treatment and injection can also assist in settling symptoms. Biomechanical assessment and attention to running style also need to be considered.
Gastrocnemius and Soleus make up the calf muscle. One is stretched with the knee bent and the other with the knee straight so it is important to encompass both when stretching.
A strain of the muscle belly is usually a sudden onset of severe pain, followed with swelling and difficulty pushing off on the affected leg. Chronic strains may be the result of old and poorly healed injuries. The calf strain often occurs as a result of a sudden contraction of calf muscles, for example during a sprint or stepping backwards quickly.
As with all other injuries the immediate administration of a PRICE protocol Protection Rest Ice Compression and Elevation is of most benefit. Gentle range of movement exercises after the first 24-48 hours should be commenced to prevent adhesions in scar tissue.
If symptoms do not settle quickly and swelling persists it would be advisable to see your GP or Physiotherapist for an opinion. These injuries usually respond promptly and well to physiotherapy and sports specific rehabilitation. Treatment often includes deep tissue massage, stretches and strengthening exercises.
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