This advice is for suspected Grade 2 strains of the Gastrocnemius, or Plantaris (“Tennis Leg”).
For Calf anatomy and Grades of Strain see Gastroc
Immediately after the injury occurs start the P.R.I.C.E. regime.
P.R.I.C.E. stands for:
- PROTECTION – use crutches for 2-3 days
- REST – don’t walk on the injured leg
- ICE – apply an Ice Pack as quickly as possible (see picture). Keep it on for 15 minutes. Repeat every hour or so for 2 days
- COMPRESSION – use a bandage to compress the calf and help minimise the bleeding / swelling
- ELEVATION – sit or even better lie with the foot elevated – this also helps with the swelling
It is relatively common practice to take some oral anti-inflammatories for the first few days post injury. Always check with your Medical Practitioner or Pharmacist first though!
REST is important for the first few days but it can cause problems if it is too prolonged.
You want the muscle to heal.
To do this there is bleeding into the gap caused by the torn fibres.
This blood clots and then is invaded by fibrous tissue to form a scar.
This scar is the scaffolding for a healthy repair to the muscle fibres.
You want the scar to form with the muscle in at least a neutral position – not in a shortened position for the calf.
Look at the diagram.
If you keep your toes pointed then the calf will heal “short” – less functional.
It is ESSENTIAL that you regularly move the ankle to at least the neutral position in the diagram.
Use Crutches for Calf Tear
Using the crutches it should be possible to put your heel down with the injured heel no further forward than the toes of the other foot.
(If you don’t have crutches then stand alongside a kitchen worktop or a study table.
Stand so that your injured side is nearest the worktop and take weight through your hand on that side.)
Start off by standing with the injured foot out in front of you.
Gradually put your heel down.
Once you can get your heel down take the weight off it and move it back towards your other foot by a few centimetres and repeat.
If it is too painful keep the foot out in front but work hard to get it back!!
Once you can do this here is a very helpful video about walking using crutches.
Best Calf Stretch
Once you can get the heels level in standing you keep going backwards with the injured leg.
This way you progress into calf stretching.
Here is the Best Calf Stretch
You now need to progress to Calf Exercises