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Junior Sport: Tips and Advice (Calf Tears)

Injuries to the muscle complex are the most common source of calf pain. Calf tears were recorded as 3.6%  of all injuries in one study of football players over a five year period (Armfield DR et al, Clin Sports Med. 2006; 25: 803-842, 2006)

Sudden overstretch, change of direction or stop, are thought to be the common mechanisms of calf injury (Orchard J et al, Br J Sports Med 2002: 36: 222-223)

Usual symptoms include:

  • Sudden onset of pain and/or a tearing sensation in the calf
  • Swelling and tenderness in the calf
  • Inability to point toes without pain or weakness
  • Unable to raise onto toes in weight-bearing
  • Walking, stairs and running are difficult

All calf strains need to have rest and a structured return to play program. If a player just waits for the soreness to ease and returns to play they will usually tear the calf again.

Physiotherapy for Calf Tears

  • Initial treatment aims to reduce pain and promote quality healing with the use of ice, electrotherapeutic modalities and soft tissue mobilisation
  • Crutches may be needed if the player cannot weight-bear
  • Myofascial soft tissue release is applied on the muscle belly over areas of increased tone and tenderness
  • Gentle stretching and strengthening should start after 24 hours
  • Low impact exercise should start as soon as comfortable (stationary cycle, cross trainer or swimming)
  • Correction of contributory factors  like lower limb muscle tightness and poor biomechanics is essential for injury prevention
  • Provide thorough rehabilitation with a specific graduated return to weight-bearing and a progressive rehabilitation to prevent recurrence of injury
  • Our goal is to make a successful return to play without re-injury

Please note: this information should serve as a guide only. When in doubt always seek advice from Southside Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Centre or your GP.

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