Studies have shown that sports and other physical activities keep you fit physically as well as mentally. But, engaging in high contact sports can cause some serious injuries to your body, especially your lower extremity. Football, baseball, tennis, badminton and other related sports can damage your lower extremity, especially your legs or calves. All these sports require pivoting, jumping, running, and quick side to side movements that can put extreme force or stress on your calves, resulting in some severe calf injuries. This article discusses the most common calf injuries that athletes may face during sports and other physical activities, along with the effective preventive measures to avoid them. So, here we go;
Common Calf Injuries In Sports
The following are the most common calf injuries result from sporting activities:
Calf Muscle Strain
Calf muscle strain is an injury to the calf muscle or tendon that is partially or completely torn. Calf muscle strain is graded from I to III;
Grade I Calf Muscle Strain: Grade I strain may involve partial stretch or tear of a few muscle fibres. The muscle can maintain its normal position, but you may feel pain and tenderness in grade I strain. It may take about 10 – 12 days to recover grade I strain.
Grade II Calf Muscle Strain: Grade II calf muscle strain refers to moderate stretch or tearing of calf muscle. You may feel pain and tenderness along with loss of strength. In some instances, you may also feel bruising. You can restart your sports activities within 16 – 21 days.
Grade III Calf Muscle Strain: This refers to the severe tear to the muscle fibres. Swelling and bruising may develop within an hour following the injury. You may feel a dent beneath the skin where the muscle is torn. It may require surgery and take up to six months to heal completely.
Causes of Calf Muscle Strain
Calf muscle strain is caused by the following reasons:
- You do not warm up your body before playing
- Poor flexibility
- Poor conditioning
- Fatigue and overextension
Symptoms of Calf Muscle Strain
A calf muscle strain may result in the following symptoms:
- Sudden onset of pain
- Limited range of motion (in moderate-to-severe strain)
- Muscle spasms
- Swelling and bruising
- Stiffness and weakness
Medial Gastrocnemius (Tennis Leg)
The calf is made of two main muscles, including the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles. A tear of the connective tissues between these two major muscles is known as a tennis leg. A tennis leg can happen to anyone at any age; however, it is most commonly found in middle-aged people and the sporting population.
Causes of Tennis Leg
The following are the factors contributing to the tennis leg:
- A sudden high force trauma to the calf during jumping or other sports activities
- Quick calf stretches, such as misjudging a step
- A sudden change in the direction
Symptoms of Tennis Leg
You may feel the following symptoms when you develop a tennis leg:
- Sharp pain in the calf muscles
- You may hear a popping sound at the time of the incident
- Pain when touching the calf muscles
- Change in the shape (in severe conditions)
- Difficulty walking
Pulled or Torn Calf Muscle
A partial or complete rupture in the calf muscles is referred to as pulled or torn calf muscles. Athletes and people over 40 are at high risk of a pulled or torn calf muscle. This may take a few weeks to heal by following conservative treatments. Some major cases may require surgery to get back to normal.
Causes of Pulled Or Torn Calf Muscle
Pulled or torn calf muscle is caused by the following reasons:
- Suddenly overstretching your calf
- Quick jumps or pivots
- Abrupt stop from running
- It may also happen when your toe gets forced upward and your calf muscle is pulled down quickly
Symptoms of Pulled Or Torn Calf Muscle
When you experience any of the given symptoms, you may have developed the pulled or torn calf muscle:
- Abrupt pain in the back of your leg
- Loss of strength
- Popping or snapping sensations
- Bruising and swelling in the calf muscles
- Problems bending your knees
How To Prevent Calf Injuries In Sports
Experts suggest some effective preventive measures that keep you safe and healthy during training and sports activities. Whether you are weekend warriors or professional athletes, you need to follow these preventive measures to help reduce the chances of injuries:
- Body Warm-Up
It does not matter in which ports you are involved; ensure that your body is fully warmed up before entering the field or court. This will help you avoid overuse and stretching injuries.
- Learn Proper Techniques
You need to make sure that you have learned all the essential techniques properly. For example, if you are a tennis, golf, football, or badminton player, learn how to change directions and jump safely.
- Avoid Overstretching
Most of the calf injuries may result from overstretching. You need to avoid overstretching to have a safe playing experience without hurting your calves.
- Wear Proper Gears
Professional trainers suggest wearing protective gear when necessary. If your calves are susceptible to overuse or overstretching injuries, wearing calf supports help you reduce the chances of injuries.
- Stretching Exercises
Stretching exercises and physical therapy keep your muscles and joints flexible and active, helping reduce extra pressure and force from the muscles and joints.
- Professional Training
Whenever you are going to learn a new technique, ensure that you are learning it under the guidance of your professional trainers. Otherwise, a lack of experience and poor training can cause some possible injuries during your training session.
- Cool Down Your Body
It is also advisable to cool down your body after every single training or sports session because it helps regulate the blood flow.
- Eat And Sleep Well
A nutritional diet helps enhance athletic performance. It is better to ask your healthcare provider or professional trainers what diet plan you should follow. As well as this, it will help if you also improve your sleeping routine. Experts said that as exercise help maintain or improve your mental health, sleep is also essential to maintain athletes’ mental health.
Choose The Best Calf Support To
If you are susceptible to injuries or are recovering from a calf injury from sports, you need to wear the calf supports. To choose the best calf supports, you can get help from your GP or professional trainers. As well as this, 360 relief provides you with the best calf supports to help manage your calf pain or other symptoms.