The Gastrocnemius muscle (gastrocs) is the more commonly injured calf muscle. It originates from the distal end of the thigh bone, and the two heads converge to form the achilles tendon (along with the underlying soleus muscle). These muscles act to plantar flex the foot (toes downward) ⤵️.
🔴Acute strains of the gastrocnemius occurs when athletes attempt to accelerate from a stationary position with the ankle in dorsiflexion (toes pointed up), or if they are in a lunge. This is because the gastroc is in a stretched position and under a lot of load.
👟Generally athletes complain of stabbing sensation at the belly of the muscle or at the musculotendinous junction. Exam reveals tenderness at the site of the strain and stretching reproduces the pain.
💊Starting treatment is typical of acute injuries: icing, NSAID’s and foot movement as tolerated. Once swelling is gone, the athlete can gradually weight-bear, gently stretching the muscle to the point of feeling slight tightness. Later, muscle strengthening can be added: isometric ➡️concentric➡️eccentric lowering.