The calf muscles are made up of two muscles. The gastrocnemius is the larger muscle and visible on the back of the leg. The soleus is a smaller and wider muscle lower down on the leg and mostly under the gastrocnemius. Each has a lateral head and medial head – two halves. Both attach near the back of the knee and to the heel via the Achilles tendon. These muscles are responsible for extending the foot as in the push-off phase of running.
Calf muscles can be torn, pulled, or experience cramping due to extreme stretching or overuse. Abrupt acceleration or changes in direction can often be the culprit. Calf injuries are much more common in men than in women, especially among middle-aged athletes. They most always occur acutely, or all at once due to forceful and abrupt acceleration. Unfortunately, once one has had a calf tear, that individual is more likely to have another in the future.
The resulting pain and tightness can be painful, sometimes severe. Often times an audible pop is heard and the individual reports feeling like they were shot in the leg or hit with a stick. More often than not the pain radiates to the feet and to the knee where the muscles start and end. Swelling is common, but should be taken very seriously if severe.
Everyone will recover from calf injuries at a different rate, but using KT Tape will help speed the process, relax the muscles, and relieve the associated pain. Rest, ice, and compression will also be valuable treatments. Severe conditions such as a DVT (deep venous thrombosis – blood clot), or compartment syndromes, could be the cause of pain. If there is any doubt, please seek professional medical care. Be very careful with NSAIDs as they may cause more internal bleeding and a great risk for DVT movement due to their blood thinning effects.