Runners, soccer players, fitness buffs, and tennis addicts all experience calf pain at some point in their careers. About 12% of all highly trained athletes, according to research, are affected by it. Furthermore, overtraining isn’t always to blame for this. What you need to be aware of:
Men have calf pain more often
For the first time, a British medical journal reported calf pain in tennis players more than a century ago. There was thus a problem with the tennis leg that scientists identified. Aches and pains in the calf region are becoming increasingly common among athletes today. Men who participate in running and football are more likely to be affected by the disease.
How does calf pain manifest itself?
When a calf muscle is inflamed, it usually causes a sharp, stabbing, or burning pain. Athletes in sports like football, tennis, and sprinting are more likely to suffer from calf muscle injuries. Particularly the muscle fibers that act quickly (FT-fibers).
During interval training, hill sprints, or other exercises that require a sudden change of direction, the pain is most prevalent. The soleus muscle, which is located in the calf, is most commonly affected by endurance athletes. Most of its components are long-twitch muscle fibers (ST-fibers). Overtraining is the most common cause of this.
The disease is divided into three categories
Calf pain is typically classified by doctors and physiotherapists as having three levels of severity:
- In the first stage, the affected area of the calf muscles is already painful to the touch, and plantar flexion exacerbates the discomfort. No swelling or dysfunction, however.
- Swelling and pain are both present in this stage. You can clearly see a lump on the calf, just above the midpoint.
- If the calf ruptures, it will necessitate surgery and rehabilitation.
How is it diagnosed?
Ultrasound examinations are commonly used to determine the extent of calf pain today. An MRI is required if the diagnosis is uncertain. Calf pain can come from a variety of sources, and doctors and physiotherapists are well aware of this.
These include the potentially deadly conditions of compartment syndrome, deep vein thrombosis, or a clogged popliteal artery (PAES). As a result, calf pain should not be ignored and should be evaluated if it occurs frequently.
How is it treated?
The vast majority of calf injuries can be successfully treated. For a stage 1 injury, icing the affected area and reducing training volume are usually sufficient treatment options. Stretching and strengthening the area is also essential.
An injury in the second stage is subject to the RICE rule (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Ice packs should be applied to the affected area for about 20 minutes every few hours. In the third stage, it is critical to receive excellent medical care.
How can I prevent problems with the calves?
Of course, it’s best if there aren’t any issues, to begin with. The calf muscles must be strengthened and kept flexible in order to accomplish this. The heel drop stretch is a simple but effective exercise.
- Place your toes on the very edge of a stairwell.
- Bend one leg while slowly lowering the heel of the other. For about 20 to 30 seconds, keep your body in this position.
- Repeat the process on the opposite side.
Medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment should always be sought from a trained medical professional; this information is not.
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