I saw a keen golfer in clinic last week who hit a shot into the bunker on a Par 5 hole. On trying to climb out of the bunker he reports feeling a pop which he describes as “being shot in the leg.”
The calf is made of three major muscles, the medial and lateral gastrocnemius and the soleus muscle. They unite to form the Achilles’ Tendon to attach into the base of the heel. The most commonly injured part of the calf when a strain occurs, is to the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle.
Calf muscle tears usually occur during acceleration or quick changes in direction. In this case trying to get out of a sand bunker. Calf strains may be minor (Grade1) or severe (Grade 3). Physiotherapy is very important following a torn calf muscle and it is important to get treatment as soon as possible to help with the acute phase. Whilst waiting for your first appointment, you can apply the PRICE principles of Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation to assist your bodies natural healing processes in the first hours after injury. If you fail to adequately rehabilitate after a calf tear it can often reoccur, particularly if you return to sport to soon.
As you can see from the photos below, this keen golfer has moderate bruising around the calf, indicative of a moderate to severe tear (Grade 2/3) of the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle. I used the lymphatic correction application of K- tape (kinesio-tape), as shown in the upper picture, onto the left calf which aids recovery by assisting with lymphatic drainage. This taping technique stimulates the lymphatic system which is vital to remove the waste products and toxins that occur during the bodies natural inflammatory processes following an injury thereby promoting the repair of the damaged tissues. Following two days of the application of the k-tape there is a significant reduction in swelling and bruising. It is clear to see the effect the K-tape has had on aiding the circulation to resolve the build up of swelling and bruising as a result of the injury by the remarkable demarcation on the skin left once the tape has been removed (lower picture).
The next phase of treatment is deep soft tissue massage to optimally remould the scar tissue (to prevent non-aligned scar tissue forming that will potentially re-tear), and begin specific strengthening exercises to restore concentric and eccentric muscle strength. Then the focus of physiotherapy turns to restoring muscle power, increasing proprioception (balance control), increasing function specific rehabilitation and flexibility and then finally a return to golf 💪🏻💪🏻. For more information go to Lower Limb Injuries
Get in touch if you’re struggling with a niggly calf injury…