Calf Injury

Calf Injury

Article by John Miller

Calf Injury

Calf injury or pain is a common occurrence in sports that include running, jumping, hopping and landing activities. Your calf muscle group primarily consists of two muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) that attach to your Achilles tendon.

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.

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 its related injuries.

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

calf injury

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, it can usually be treated 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 extremely quickly to physiotherapy allowing you to resume pain-free and healthy activities of daily living promptly.

Please ask you, physiotherapist, for their professional treatment advice.

Calf Pain FAQs

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 are 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. Please take caution with some overzealous exercise prescribers who believe that the more painful the activity, the better. Thus simply 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 are inadequately supported 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 for 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 just stop taking your regular blood pressure medication because you were too busy or didn't think it was working? 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 of you don't take it as prescribed by your health professional. So, next time you skip your "exercise dose" just remember that you are not putting your health first. If you have any questions, please contact your Physio Works physiotherapist for your best care.
You know the feeling… dreaded “stiff and sore muscles” a day or two after you’ve done a little more exercise than usual.

What Causes Muscular Pain?

Shortly after exercise begins, a mix of lactic and carbonic acids builds up in muscle tissue. These acids are waste products of muscle contractions. Don’t worry these acids are normal. To produce “energy”, muscles burn stored glycogen. Lactic and carbonic acids are by-products of this metabolic process. The good news is that most of these acids convert back into glycogen and are restored in preparation for your next bout of exercise. Pain and muscle fatigue can exist until the acid levels in your muscles return to normal.

How Does Massage Help?

Massage helps to eliminate the irritation caused by these acidic wastes. Research shows that massage can increase muscle recovery much quicker than rest alone.

Why is Massage So Useful When You Exercise?

Regular exercise causes many body changes. To meet the demand for more oxygen and nutrients, one improvement is the increase in blood vessels to the muscles. This circulation increase helps to eliminate the waste products and toxins that build up with exercise. Importantly, it can take several weeks to develop an improved muscular circulation. Until the blood supply increases, you will have trouble with oxygen and nutrients supply. This allows toxic wastes to back up and stagnate. You will experience soreness, pain and stiffness. Many exercise enthusiasts regard aches and pains as the inevitable price to be paid. This is usually not true.

What about Muscle & Joint Stiffness?

Massage eases muscle and joint stiffness. Using massage strokes to reduce muscle tension and passive movement to stretch the connective tissue found around joints, massage will improve your performance. Massage also lengthens muscle and tendon units to help prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.

What about Soft Tissue Injuries and Massage?

Massage aids recovery from soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains. Tissue repair accelerates by increasing circulation in the injured area. Massage therapy can help speed, improve recovery, and reduce discomfort from soft tissue injuries.

Massage is Drug-Free Treatment

Massage is a drugless therapy. Headaches, insomnia, neck and back pain, digestive disorders including constipation and spastic colon, arthritis, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome and muscular aches and pains are just some of the problems that can respond to massage therapy.

Private Health Insurance Rebates

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

However, Private Health Funds do vary their rebates payable depending upon the level of cover that 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. For more information, please visit Hicaps for the latest funds 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
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