This helps best if you struggle with calf pain

This helps best if you struggle with calf pain

Whether you are a runner, soccer player or tennis crack – calf pain is a common problem. According to research, about 12 percent of all intensively training athletes have to struggle with it. And overtraining is not always the cause. What you should know…

Men have calf pain more often

125 years ago, a British medical magazine reported for the first time on calf pain in tennis players. The scientists, therefore, called the problem tennis leg. Today the painful problems in the calf area are widespread among athletes. Male runners and football players are particularly often affected.

How do calp pain manifest itself

Typical for calf pain is a sudden, violent and burning pain. In football and tennis players as well as sprinters, the middle head of the calf muscle is usually affected. Especially the fast-acting muscle fibers (FT-fibers). The pain occurs particularly frequently during interval training, hill sprints or exercises where one abrupt change the direction. In endurance athletes, the soleus, which belongs to the calf, is usually affected. It mainly consists of slowly reacting muscle fibers (ST-fibers). In most cases, this is due to overtraining.

Calf pain is often with male runners and football players
Male runners often struggle with calf pain (©adpic)

Calf pain is divided into three categories

Doctors and physiotherapists divide the severity of calf pain into three stages:

  • Stage 1: the affected area of the calf muscles is already painful when touched, and plantar flexion reproduces the pain. But there is no swelling or dysfunction.
  • Stage 2: Swelling occurs in addition to pain. This swelling is visible and is located slightly above the middle of the calf.
  • Stage 3: The worst case is a rupture of the calf, which leads to surgery and months of rehabilitation.

How is it diagnosed?

Today it is usually possible to determine the extent of calf pain with the help of an ultrasound examination. If the diagnosis is uncertain, an MRI is necessary. Experienced doctors and physiotherapists also know that calf pain can come from anywhere else. These include dangerous compartment syndrome, deep vein thrombosis or a pinched popliteal artery (PAES). This is why it is so important not to ignore calf pain and to have it examined if it occurs frequently.

How is calf pain treated?

Most calf injuries can be treated well. For a stage 1 injury, it is usually sufficient to cool the area and reduce the training load for a few days. It is also important to stretch and strengthen the area. For an injury in stage 2, the RICE rule applies (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). It is best to use ice bags regularly every few hours and then lay them on the painful area for about 20 minutes. At stage 3, good medical treatment is absolutely necessary.

How can I prevent problems with the calfs?

It is of course even better if there are no problems in the first place. For this, it is necessary to strengthen the calf muscle and to keep them flexible. A very simple but effective exercise is the heel drop stretch.

  • Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of a stair.
  • Drop one heel slowly toward the floor and bend your other leg. Hold this position for about 20 up 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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