A calf strain is an injury to the gastrocnemius muscle (muscle strain). The strain is either a partial or complete tear. Most commonly, calf strains are minor tears of some muscle fibers, and the muscle tissue remains intact.
Symptoms of a calf strain?
An acute calf strain is painful. Calf strains are usually graded as follows:
- Grade I Calf Strain: mild discomfort, often minimal disability. Usually minimal or no limits to activity
- Grade II Calf Strain: moderate discomfort with walking, and limited ability to perform activities; most likely swelling and bruising are relative
- Grade III Calf Strain: severe injury that can immobilize. Collateral damage are muscle spasm, swelling and significant bruising
What is recovery time for a calf strain?
A typical Grade I calf strain is 7 to 10 days of recuperation. A Grade II injury is within four to six weeks. A Grade III calf strain is about three months. A Grade II is the most common calf strain, that is about six weeks to completely heal.
There are several factors that predisposes a chronic calf strain. A physiotherapist has to identify the causal of chronic pain like
- poor calf flexibility
- inappropriate training
- poor biomechanics
- poor foot posture (specially flat feet)
- inadequate warm up
- ankle joint stiffness
- calf weakness
- inadequate rehabilitation following a previous calf injury
The conventional RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) technique should be applied to interminable chronic pain. Ice (before and after activity) 15 to 25 minutes, every two hours, up to three days. Warm therapy balances muscle flexibility, as well as neutralizing inflammation and improving circulation. It should always be done after pain.
This inexorable condition may need physiotherapy treatment like
- soft tissue massage
- electrotherapy (e.g. ultrasound)
- anti-inflammatory prescription
- usage of heel wedges or crutches
- joint mobilization
- dry needling
- ice or heat treatment
- exercises to improve strength, flexibility or balance
- activity modification advice
- biomechanical correction
- the use of a compression bandage
- prescription of esthetics
- footwear advice
- determining an appropriate return to activity or sport plan