Recovery From Calf Muscle Injuries
If you’re a road runner, you work out on a treadmill or you play tennis or footy with your mates on the weekend, you’ll likely be familiar with calf muscle injuries. They’re a common problem for elite athletes, sometimes keeping them on the sidelines for months at a time and, unfortunately, they come with a high risk of recurrence. And it’s not just pros who are prone; anyone can injure a calf muscle doing everyday activities from sprinting for a bus to hitting the dance floor on date night.
Your calf is made up of two muscles, the gastrocnemius and underlying soleus, which meet at the Achilles tendon at the heel bone, and when it comes to calf pain there are many causes, from a bout of cramp to a potentially serious deep vein thrombosis. One of the most common, however, is overstretching or tearing one of these two muscles, which typically happens as your foot pushes off the ground quickly for a burst of speed.
The primary symptom of a calf strain is sudden cramping-like pain in the calf, followed by stiffness and weakness when walking and difficulty rising onto your toes. Additionally, some people feel a pop or snap as the injury occurs and develop bruising after a day or two. Strains range from minor to severe, with recovery lasting anything from a couple of weeks to three or four months. Age and gender have a role to play with the highest risk group being older runners and older men in particular.
Treatment recommendations usually include resting the affected leg and taking painkillers if necessary, along with physiotherapy or occupational therapy down the track if the problem persists. However, adding a TENS machine such as the PainPod or Hidow to a treatment plan can also be valuable, for on-demand pain relief (1) (2), to help ease soreness and speed up recovery (2) (3), and to enhance any physiotherapy sessions.
TENS works by interfering with, and blocking, pain signals from travelling to the brain and stimulating the body to produce endorphins for drug-free pain relief (1) (2). They flood your nervous system with gentle electrical impulses, delivered through the skin via electrodes attached to adhesive pads placed on the affected area such as a calf muscle. It’s similar to how painkillers treat pain but without any potentially serious side effects or a risk of dependency. Additionally, PainPod and Hidow machines provide EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) technology which may help with swelling (4).
PainPod has added two new compression therapy devices to its lineup of well-being products which are wireless, portable, and can assist with recovery from injuries like a calf muscle strain. Our full-leg compression boots come in three sizes and have three massage modes, and they can assist muscle recovery in multiple ways from improving blood circulation and increasing lymph flow to help ease swelling and fluid build-up, to releasing tension and sore spots.
Meanwhile, our leg compression wraps are ideal for use on sore calves. They use a controlled airbag inflation and deflation system to simulate the sensation of manual kneading on leg muscles which, coupled with vibration and heat, helps to improve local blood flow and promote muscle relaxation. The wraps have three working modes, three vibration intensity levels, and three heating temperature options, and they can be used on one or both legs at the same time.
For more information about PainPod and Hidow machines and accessories, or our new compression therapy products, click here.
- Vance, et al. Using TENS for pain control: the state of the evidence. Pain Management. 3: 197-209, 2014
- Mankovsky-Arnold, T., et al. TENS attenuates repetition-induced summation of activity-related pain following experimentally induced muscle soreness. 14 (11): p. 1416-24, 2013
- Taylor, et al. The impact of neuromuscular electrical stimulation on recovery after intensive, muscle damaging, maximal speed training in professional team sports players. J Sci Med Sport. 2015 May;18(3):328-32
- Kwon, DR. et al. Short-term micro-current electrical neuromuscular stimulation to improve muscle function in the elderly: A randomised, double-blinded, sham-controlled clinical trial. Medicine. 96:26, 2017