A calf strain – muscle tear or bruise – is a very common injury in contact sports. Impact to the calf muscles can cause more damage than might be expected and should be treated with respect. The muscle can be crushed against the bone and if not treated correctly or if treated too aggressively further complications may result.
The injury can present in two ways:
Intramuscular contusion is a tearing of the muscle within the sheath that surrounds the muscle. Initial bleeding may stop early (within hours) however the fluid is unable to escape as the muscle sheath prevents it. The result is considerable loss of function and significant pain that can take days or weeks to recover. You are not likely to see any bruising come out with this type of injury – especially in the early stages.
Inter-muscular contusion is a tearing of the muscle and part of the sheath surrounding it. This means the initial bleeding will take longer to stop – particularly if you do not ice it. However, recovery is often faster than intramuscular injury as the blood and fluids can flow away.
Pain – following a blow to the leg
Swelling – in the calf region
Bruising – can be extensive discoloration to the foot and lower leg but not in all cases
Magic Massage Pro recommends the following best practice injury management:
Implement immediate first aid to prevent any further injury and manage the initial pain
Seek thorough medical diagnosis and follow all medical advice throughout the recovery period
Attend a clinical practice for appropriate electrotherapy treatment, to aid recovery, re-establish function and rebuild strength
Between visits to the clinic, supplement your treatment with personal electrotherapy and manual exercise; this may reduce the recovery period
Manage on-going pain with pain relief on-demand
Help to prevent a recurrence of injury by strengthening surrounding muscle or groups of muscle.
Like all other methods of pain relief, including pharmaceuticals, TENS may not be effective for everyone.
Like all other methods of physical therapy, including manual exercise, NMS may not be suitable in all cases of muscle weakness.
Use of analgesic TENS is intended to relieve the symptoms and associated pain – never the cause.
In conjunction with any massage and exercise program devised for you, you might also follow this program at home. It may help with pain managment and to hasten recovery.
The acute stage of the injury may last for up to three days. Rest, apply ice and a compression bandage and keep the leg elevated.
During this time, also apply mild analgesic TENS therapy to assist with:
Fast and long lasting pain relief
Increased cellular activity – which starts the healing process as early as possible
Continue TENS applications of at least a 60 minute duration, whenever you choose, throughout the entire recovery period.
When the swelling has reduced and pain is under control, commence mild NMS physical therapy of the calf muscle. At this stage NMS may assist to:
Continue to enhance cellular activity
Remove waste product
Deliver protein and nutrients
Follow the treatment program instructions below. Remember that, in most cases, the speed of recovery is directly related to the frequency and length of treatments.
Muscles waste and become weak when they are unused due to immobilization.
To help with the Rehabilitation stage we recommend you use a comfortable NMS Exercise frequency and follow the instructions below.
Once the calf muscle has returned to normal functioning:
swelling has gone down
no further pain
– you can start exercising the calf and help prevent against a recurrence of the injury. See below for guidance.
Place electrodes on either side of the calf muscle.