Calf Injury

Calf Injury

Article by John Miller

Calf Injury

Calf injury or pain is a common occurrence in sports, including running, jumping, hopping, and landing. Your calf muscle group primarily consists of two muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) attached to your Achilles tendon. Achilles tendinopathy or ruptured Achilles tendons are commonplace but successfully treated.

Calf injuries can occur in both muscle and tendon structures. Excessive forces commonly cause damage during explosive contraction, eccentric control loading or when your calf muscles fatigue. Calf muscle tears are prevalent.

calf injury

Your calf muscles protect your shin bone from the rear and both sides. However, excessive load through your shin bone (tibia) can result in shin pain and related injuries. Shin pain and injury is prevalent in loading bearing sports.

For specific information regarding your calf pain, please seek the advice of your physiotherapist.

Referred Calf Pain

Calf pain is a  common symptom of referred pain, e.g. Sciatica.

Sciatica is a condition caused by a pinched nerve in your lower back. Fortunately, Your physiotherapist can usually treat it successfully with physiotherapy. The occasional patient requires spinal surgery.

Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT)

DVT’s are the most severe concerns and can result in pulmonary embolism (PE), stroke or potentially death! Your calf assessment should exclude the possibility of a DVT as an URGENT PRIORITY.

Symptoms and signs of Calf DVT include:

  • Calf swelling & pain
  • Redness & Warmth to the touch
  • Worsening leg pain when bending the foot and toes backwards.
  • Leg cramps (especially at night or in the calf)
  • Skin discolouration

Risk factors for DVT/PE include:

  • Prolonged sitting or immobility
  • Recent surgery
  • Recent trauma to the lower body
  • Obesity
  • Heart attack or heart failure
  • Pregnancy or recent childbirth
  • High Altitudes
  • Oestrogen therapy or birth control pills
  • Cancer
  • Advanced age
  • Medical conditions that affect the veins

If you suspect a DVT or PE, please urgently consult your doctor or physiotherapist to assess and exclude a DVT or PE.

Calf Pain Treatment

With accurate assessment and early treatment, most calf pain responds quickly to physiotherapy treatment, allowing you to promptly resume pain-free and healthy daily living activities.

Please ask your physiotherapist for their professional calf treatment advice.

Why Should You Stretch?

A British Medical Journal study found that pre-event stretching does not reduce the overall risk of injury. However, stretching reduces the risk of specific damage (injuries to muscles, ligaments, and tendons). These soft tissue injuries are common in both elite and recreational sportspeople. It seems reasonable and common sense that stretching may not prevent you from suffering a broken bone or a joint dislocation, but it could reduce your chance of a soft tissue injury.

The other main finding was that stretching reduces the risk of experiencing soreness, making exercising more enjoyable!

While sustained stretches in isolation may not be the answer, other studies have shown that warming up does reduce your injury rate. While there is no "absolutely proven"method of warming up yet, the preferred options appear to be a graduated progression to prepare you for your sport. In simple terms, warm-up steadily from gentle exercises that increase in intensity and speed as you progress through your warm-up period.

It makes common sense for you to warm things up slowly to start and then prepare with replicate skills to what you will require shortly on the field, at the end of your warm-up.

For more specific warm-up and injury prevention advice particular to your sport or work, please ask your physiotherapist to prescribe a warm-up and warm-down routine specific to you and your sport or physical activity.

More Info:

Stretching Exercises

Strength Exercises

Core Exercises

Radiology Referrals

Can Your Physiotherapist Refer for X-Rays and Scans?

Yes. Physiotherapists can refer you for many types of medical investigations including X-Rays, Ultrasound Scans and MRI scans.

The full Medicare rebate applies to most X-rays ordered by physiotherapists. Not all Radiology clinics bulk bill, so out of pocket expenses may be payable.

Medicare does limit certain investigations based upon the item number and whether your referrer is a GP, Medical Specialist or Physiotherapist.

Your physiotherapist is happy to discuss with you the pros and cons of specific tests.

Physiotherapist Prescribed Exercises

Why Do Physiotherapists Prescribe You Exercises?

The prescription of exercise appropriate to you and your injury or fitness level is one of the many professional skills of a physiotherapist. Whether you have suffered an acute injury, chronic deconditioning, or recovering from surgery, the correct exercise prescription is essential. That's why your physiotherapist's knowledge and skills will personalise your exercise dose.

Your physiotherapist not only is educated in injury diagnosis but also exercise physiology or the science of exercise. This training enables your physiotherapist to assess and diagnose your injury, plus also to prescribe injury, fitness or age-appropriate activities targeted to you now.

What Exercises Should You Do?

Your exercises shouldn't be painful. Would you please be cautious with some overzealous exercise prescribers who believe that the more painful the activity, the better? This isn't true—notably, the frail, immunosuppressed, deconditioned or post-operative person.

You'll find that your physiotherapist will thoroughly examine you and prescribe a series of exercises suitable for you in quantities that will not injure you further. Please seek an exercise expert, such as your physiotherapist, when you are planning your rehabilitation.

What Happens When You Stop Exercises?

Without some simple exercises, we know that specific muscles can become weak. When these supporting muscles are weak, your injured structures inadequately support and predispose you to linger symptoms or further injury. You can also over-activate adjacent muscles that may lead to further damage.

It is also essential to understand that even if you are "in good shape", you may have crucial but weak localised or stability muscles. When you have an injury, you should perform specific exercises that specifically strengthen the muscles around your injury and the adjacent joints. Your physiotherapist will assess your muscle function and prescribe the right exercises specific to your needs.

The exercises prescribed will usually be relatively simple, and do not require any special weights equipment, and can be performed safely at home.

Would You Stop Your Daily Prescription Drugs?

Your physiotherapist will prescribe your individualised dose or exercises. They are using their professional expertise to optimise your exercise dose. Would you stop taking your regular blood pressure medication because you were too busy or didn't think it worked? We would hope not!

Exercise, when prescribed by an expert such as your physiotherapist, should be treated as your recommended dose. Just like when you don't take your blood pressure medication, you can't expect the drugs to work if you don't take them as prescribed by your health professional.

So, next time you skip your "exercise dose", remember that you are not putting your health first. If you have any questions, please get in touch with your Physio Works physiotherapist for your best care.

Physiotherapy Private Health Insurance Rebates

PhysioWorks Physiotherapy and Remedial Massage are more affordable than you think. Your Private Health Insurance (PHI) usually pays for most of your treatment fees, leaving you with only a small gap payment.

However, Private Health Funds vary their rebates payable depending upon the level of cover you have taken. Some funds have kept up with the costs of modern medicine whereas, sadly, others haven't, with rebates similar to what they were a decade ago.

HICAPS - Instant Health Fund Claims

Most health funds are members of the HICAPS instant claims system.  Swipe your health insurance card at our reception counter, and you can instantly claim your physiotherapy treatment via our online Hicaps System. Remedial Massage is claimable via Hicaps for some but not all funds. Please visit Hicaps for the latest funds for more information, which can use their instant claiming system.

Private health insurance rebates are available for all of our physiotherapists. Instant claims are possible via our in-practice Hicaps system.

Third-Party Insurers

PhysioWorks practitioners are registered providers for government, Workcover and insurance companies, including:

  • Workcover
  • InjuryNet
  • Australia Post; Coles Myer; Woolworths
  • Medicare
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs
  • CTP & Sports Insurers