Calf strain can come on suddenly and feels like being kicked in the ball of the leg. More commonly it develops over time starting as a niggle or as stiffness after activity which gradually gets worse.
Peter who is in his late twenties had started road running 9 months before attending Stranmillis Physiotherapy in preparation for a half-marathon. About 3 months into his training he started noticing increased stiffness in his left calf the morning after a run. Over the following weeks similar but less severe symptoms appeared in the right calf. Eventually both calves felt stiff most of the time but seemed to ease after a few minutes of running. However this situation didn’t last and pain started to appear while running so that he was forced to stop completely. He took 2 weeks off running but his symptoms reappeared as soon as he tried to resume his training. On assessment Peter’s feet were a major part of his problem in that they failed to absorb and distribute load correctly and over time this had placed excessive strain on his calf muscles. In addition his balance and stability were less than optimal and his thigh and lower leg muscles were very tight. Treatment included soft tissue work and LASER treatment to help the muscles heal. Orthotics (customised insoles to correct foot mechanics) were fitted and his balance and stability were addressed. He was taught a post-exercise stretching programme for all his leg muscles. Peter needed 6 sessions spread over 7 weeks before he could resume running. He followed a programme designed to safely progress his training and was able to complete the half-marathon.
Peter said “I learned a lot about my injury and now I know how to look after my calf muscles. I definitely do all my stretches after every run”.