Muscle tears make up some of the most common types of acute injuries seen, with most of us having experienced at least one in our lives. Many suffer a ''one-off'' strain but unfortunately some of us endure recurring strains that subsequently, and frustratingly, keep us out of sport for long periods.
When put simply, a muscle contracts to either provide stability to a joint or provide movement of a limb. If we use the calf muscles as an example, we contract them to push our feet off the ground (concentric contraction) and when we land (eccentric contraction). Calf muscle tears can occur when we suddenly accelerate or decelerate, as we're putting a greater load through it than it is able to cope with at that specific time. This does not mean that you are likely to tear your calf every time you accelerate or decelerate but does show that we can reduce the risk of a tear occurring by preparing the muscle for such loads. Examples include increasing muscle strength and power along with appropriate warm up/cool down.
When we see muscle tears in the clinic, they can present in slightly different ways but pain at the muscle site is most common. We often see loss of function or strength and sometimes see swelling/bruising but not always.
This particular client presented with sudden pain in her calf as she set off after a cricket ball. She described the feeling as if ''someone else had thrown another ball at my leg''. As you can see in the picture, she had some mild swelling and bruising but pain had decreased, and she was able to walk normally after initially limping. You can also see that from the video of a single leg heel raise, which tests calf strength, she is able to perform this much easier on her uninjured side.
If you feel that you need help with a recurring muscle strain or are not sure whether your injury is a muscle strain, please get in touch and we can get you sorted.