Calf Strain

There are two main calf muscles the more superficial Gastrocknemius and the deeper soleus muscle. These have different shapes and different fibre content which reflects the contrasting functional roles.  Gastrocnemeus is by its nature a power generator while soleus plays a role in balance control.


Calf muscles have extraordinary demands placed on them requiring them to generate a great deal of power as well as provide stability at the ankle joint. Activities including running, jumping and rapidly changing directions place high loads through the calf with under certain circumstances can result in a muscular calf strain.


The change in shape of the calf as it descends from its origin behind the knee, downwards to its insertion at the ankle and foot has a significant impact on its function. This change in shape of the calf from a broad, deep muscle to a much narrower muscle results in a much greater strain being applied to the narrower section of the calf.  An analogy, useful for explaining this point is to consider a wide, deep river converging to a narrower section. While the same amount of water is flowing down the river at both sections the narrower section drives the rate of flow and turbulence up significantly. In patho-anatomical terms, this increases the strain in this area and is a natural point for soft tissue injuries to occur.


Conservative management appropriate to the phase of the calf injury can aid the recovery process reducing pain, swelling and allowing for a return to normal functional activity and sport.


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