Managing calf tears

Calf tears are a common injury in athletes but fortunately for us they respond well to treatment. A traumatic injury to the calf will usually occur when there is a sudden movement whereby the ankle is in dorsiflexion (bent up) and the body weight is placed on the limb, for example, during rapid lunging or running. People who have experienced a calf tear will describe a feeling of being hit on the back of the calf and this will lead to pain, swelling and sometimes the inability to walk. 

Management of calf tears will largely depend on each patient and will also be determined by the severity of the injury. Nevertheless, the following principles of treatment can be outlined as rough guidelines to the management of these:

  1. Relative rest. At this point it may be indicated to use ice and elevate the limb. If swelling is present you may find compression can help to reduce this. 
  2. Use aids to assist you if needed. If the injury is severe crutches can help you to mobilise. If placing the foot down is too sore you may find that a heel wedge helps your symptoms. 
  3. Exercise within your pain limits. Once you are ready to perform some exercises to maintain your strength and flexibility, make sure you are not in pain. 
  4. Progress the exercises as able, increasing the load through the limb as tolerated. 
  5. Once you are no longer in pain in your day to day activities, you may still need to rehabilitate certain aspects in order to return to sport. 

As per most injuries, have it looked at by your physiotherapist if you are in doubt. With calf pain it is important to clear serious conditions such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) as they can present similar to tears but can be life threatening. Please contact us on 08 9335 7733 if you would like to book an appointment or find out more information.