The calf is made up of a complex bunch of muscles including… soleus, gastrocnemius, tibialis posterior and anterior and the peronei. These muscles all have different functions but work together to give control, balance and force dispersion to the lower limb. As they are the first group of larger muscles leading on from the foot, there is a great amount of stress placed upon them and injuries like calf strains, and damage to the Achilles tendon are common.

So what causes calf pain?

Calf pain usually stems from a localised tear of the muscle or a dysfunction within the ankle or foot. If you only have pain in the calf and nowhere else, chances are it is a strain or tear. It’s worth remembering though that pain in the calf can also be referred from the low back. This can result in sharp shooting pain in the belly of the calf muscle or to the side. (See our blog on sciatica.) and occasionally calf pain can be due to a Deep Vein Thrombosis.

Osteopaths are trained to diagnose the source of your pain and refer on to other health professionals if necessary.

So how can you prevent injuries from happening?

The first thing to realise is that the calf is far from the vital organs so sufficient fluid often doesn’t make it down there. Our intake of water is crucial to help the calf function and to help the body return blood back up to the lungs and heart. If you aren’t sure whether you are drinking enough I’ve given more information here.
Also we need to keep flexible. When you’re sitting down, think about rolling your foot from heel to toe so you keep the fluid moving back up the body and you gently exercise the calf. Or why not try rolling a massage ball under your foot while you are at your desk. As well as keeping the calf muscles active you’ll be improving the flexibility in your feet!
When it comes to stretches, I like to recommend this 3 dimensional stretch. It is vital that we stretch in the 3 planes that are available to us: forwards, sideways and rotational, to mimic the strains that are put through the calf in real life. If we only stretch the muscles in one plane they will only be effective in that plane. This stretch also works the hip by opening it up, so you get a double whammy of good stretches! For more help and advice please Contact Us

Clinic Blog Author: Kieron Kerr M. Ost

A golfing injury led Kieron to consider Osteopathy as a career. Kieron trained at the British School of Osteopathy, where he graduated with a Masters in Osteopathy. He has treated patients ranging in age from 7 to 88 years old and believes that Osteopathy can help with almost every condition. Learn more about Kieron and our Team of Plymouth Osteopaths.