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Calf Strain

 
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The calf muscles consist of the Gastrocnemius which is the big muscle at the back of the lower leg and the Soleus muscle which is a smaller muscle lower down in the leg and under the Gastrocnemius. (Sports Injury Clinic.net http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/cybertherapist/back/backlowerleg/calfstrain.htm)

The calf muscles consist of the Gastrocnemius which is the big muscle at the back of the lower leg and the Soleus muscle which is a smaller muscle lower down in the leg, under the Gastrocnemius.

Gastrocnemius is the larger of the two muscles which attaches above the knee joint and inserts into the heel bone via the achilles tendon. The Soleus attaches below the knee joint and then also to the heel via the achilles. Either of these two muscles can be strained.

Both muscles act to plantarflex the ankle (point the foot away from the body). As gastrocnemius attaches above the knee it also helps with bending the knee. In this position, with the knee bent, soleus becomes the main plantarflexor. If the Soleus muscle is damaged you might get pain lower in the leg and also pain when you contract the muscle against resistance with the knee bent.

All muscle strains are graded from 1-3, with grade 1 being a minor tear, with up to 10% of fibrers involved. A grade 2 tear involves up to 90% of the muscle fibres and a grade 3 is over 90% of fibers torn, or a full rupture. This usually occurs at the muscular tendinous junction or the achilles tendon itself.

Both muscles act to plantarflex the ankle (point the foot away from the body). As gastrocnemius attaches above the knee it also helps with bending the knee. In this position, with the knee bent, soleus becomes the main plantarflexor. If the Soleus muscle is damaged you might get pain lower in the leg and also pain when you contract the muscle against resistance with the knee bent.

Symptoms of calf strain include:
Grade 1:

A twinge of pain in the back of the lower leg.
May be able to play on.
Tightness and aching in the 2-5 days after.

Grade 2

Sharp pain in the back of the lower leg.
Pain when walking.
There may be swelling in the calf.
Mild to moderate bruising.

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