The calf is one interesting body part that serves a crucial role in the movement of humans. Located at the lower limb, it is undoubtedly the area most people, particularly the athletes, love building up. An essential thing to note is that the calf muscles provide the feet the ability to handle your body’s top load, thanks to its involvement in the ankle’s plantar flexion. Marathoners and anyone who runs basically need to ensure their calf muscles are in good shape since they also help the whole body stabilize.
Having weak calf muscles makes someone vulnerable to a series of injuries that includes but are not limited to shin splints. The best way to avoid such injuries is to engage in routine strengthening, foam rolling, and leg stretching. For better stretching, invest in the best calf stretcher to ensure it is done and aimed towards the calf muscles. There are various such stretchers in the market, and the right one to pick will depend on one’s need and ability to purchase. It is essential to consider that the calf muscles, just like the other body muscles, experience issues. A sporting enthusiast will concur that these muscles can face strains and tears on several occasions. The calf muscle issues portray various degrees of pain, from a mild nuisance to extreme pain that halts a person’s movement. This post shares the various causes of calf muscle pain and the treatment options available.
This occurs when the fibers in a calf muscle are partially or fully torn. The most common type of calf muscle strain is the medial gastrocnemius condition that causes severe pain. Every sports person at some point of training, sprinting, or jumping has certainly experienced muscle strain. The pain of strain is usually sharp, and in acute cases, swelling will form after some time.
Typically, a calf muscle spasm or better known as a muscle cramp, is an instinctive and unexpected contraction that affects one or more muscles in the said leg section. Many can attest to have stopped their duties due to a Charley horse-like pain on the calf muscle that happens suddenly. The nuisance about this cause of muscle pain is that it could happen during the night while someone is asleep—no one wants to wake up with a paining leg. The good thing about muscle spasm is that it causes a temporary stinging pain but does not lead to other muscle complications.
Claudication of the Arteries
Arterial claudication happens when the arteries supplying blood to the brain fail to do so due to narrowing or impasses. Pain caused by this condition comes when the affected person begins to walk since movement requires a blood supply on the legs. The same person will feel okay the moment he or she sits to rest.
This condition occurs especially in individuals that have undergone a traumatic experience or an acute injury. Apart from the calf muscles, compartment syndrome could affect the entire leg. This issue’s causative factor is the accumulation of excess blood or fluids beneath the tough tissues making them not stretch normally. This fluid buildup causes pain, numbness, tingling, and swelling of the leg. It is essential to note that some form of compartment syndrome can be chronic and resurface from time to time, especially when stretching.
Though this is not a problem that occurs on the calf muscles, it originally starts due to these muscles’ tightening. Plantar fasciitis, as the name implies, affects the bottom of the foot where plantar fascia tissues are located. The condition causes pain and difficulty bending the foot.
Claudication of the Nerves
Also known as neurogenic claudication, this condition is linked to the nerves running across the leg. Wherever these nerves get pinched, they seize to pass impulses to the lower leg, causing pain on the calf muscle. The nerves mostly occur in people with spinal stenosis, a condition caused by the narrowing of the spinal column bone. The narrowing causes too much pressure on the nerve. Neurogenic claudication may cause calf muscle pain even while at rest.
Considering that the calf muscles connect to the tendon fibers (Achilles) to make the foot hold the upper body’s weight when the muscle gets tight, huge pressure will get to the Achilles hence causing pain on the calf. Most Achilles tendinitis cases are attributed to people who do regular repetitive exercise and those getting into a gym program after a long time.
These are swollen veins that may look like cords and are often noticeable from the outside of the legs on the calf area. Primarily, the main causal factor for varicose veins is the backflow of blood resulting from destroyed valves. People susceptible to this condition include;
- The aging
- Pregnant Women
- Individuals suffering from obesity
- People with a family history of varicose veins
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
DVT is what comes after blood clots on the veins located in the legs. This condition affects people who have sat in the same place for hours and can cause severe pain on the calf the moment they stand up. Since the clot affects the blood flow on the legs, one might recognize the condition by the calf’s swelling, which also turns red. It is advisable for people, for instance, those taking long flights, to consider stretching their legs frequently to keep off DVT.
The cause of treatment will depend on the calf muscle pain causative factor. While other pain goes away without any attention, those whose pains occur as a result of injuries use to go through the following;
- The protection involves putting the muscles to rest by tying a splint
- Resting the calf muscles and avoiding unnecessary movements
- Using ice to reduce inflammation
- Putting on compression stockings to aid in stretching the calf muscles
- Using a calf stretcher
Some cases of calf muscle pain may require a muscle physician’s attention for comprehensive medical procedures. There are extreme situations that call for surgeries.