The calf refers to the two muscles at the back of the leg between the knee and ankle. The more superficial muscle is called the gastrocnemius while the deeper muscle is named the soleus. The former is more commonly injured.
The gastrocnemius is the more powerful muscle that provides sudden explosive power when ‘taking off’ to run, As a result, calf strains and tears commonly occur when suddenly accelerating from a stationary position, lunging forward in squash/tennis and running up onto a curb where the muscle is suddenly over-stretched.
The symptoms of an acute calf strain are obvious: a sharp stabbing or tearing sensation usually on the inside of the calf or where the calf meets the achilles tendon.
The initial management of a calf strain is ice and rest. Sometimes crutches are needed to take the weight off the injured leg. Osteopathic treatment is aimed at reducing the pain in the area, stretching the tight muscle and beginning a strengthening programme as soon as possible. Low-impact cross-training, swimming and cycling can provide an alternative way of maintaining fitness.