Few athletes probably take the time to really understand the importance of their calf muscles. This mistake can be a costly one. Serious calf injuries can take an athlete out of their game for an extended period. Why are injuries to the calves so problematic? And how can you prevent them?
Why Calf Injuries Are Serious Injuries
Calf injuries are so difficult for athletes because they often strip them of the ability to walk or run effectively. Just think about your average exercise during the day. How often are you pivoting and putting strain on your lower legs? There’s a good chance you’re doing it almost constantly. As a result, your calves often work as a kind of buffer for more serious strain.
When your calves get injured or weakened, they are unable to support your weight in the same way. As a result, you’re not going to be able to exercise effectively. Even worse, you may end up suffering from more serious leg problems because of your injuries. Understanding how to prevent this problem requires knowing the reasons that it occurs and preventing them.
Reasons Your Calves Get Injured
The core reason behind calf muscle injuries is weakness in your lower legs. For example, a lack of flexibility in this area (particularly your Achilles) is the main reason you will suffer from calf injuries. Without enough strength of flexibility, they are more likely to strain when you move on the court or field and suffer from serious damage.
As a result, it is important to strengthen these areas to avoid these kinds of injuries. The best way to do that is through a series of simple exercise routines. These routines should be performed by anyone who is concerned about their calf muscle strength and who wants to avoid injury. They should take no more than 15-20 minute or so to perform every day.
Prevention Through Exercise
Before you suffer from a calf injury, perform these simple exercises to improve the flexibility in the area and avoid serious strain:
- Straight-Leg Calf Stretch – Stand two feet from a wall, place your hands on it, and shift your weight to your back foot to stretch your calves.
- Bent-Leg Calf Stretch – The same as above but requires bending both of your knees to create a stretch in the ankle.
Other popular exercises for the calves include squats, calf rolls, and even light walking. Massages are also a good idea because they can help loosen the tight muscles in the area and prevent a severe strain that can cause an injury.
Managing An Injury
Even though these exercises should help keep you from serious injury, there is still a chance that you might end up with one anyway. There’s not much you can do here but go into what is known as a dynamic rest period. This requires staying off your lower-legs as much as possible. Use a cane or crutches to avoid putting pressure on the injured leg.
Next, you need to ice it for 15-20 minutes at a time during the first 24 hours. This action will reduce inflammation and keep it from getting worse. After icing, a good compression bandage will help further decrease the swelling and avoid serious problems. Loosen the bandage immediately if your foot gets cold or changes color.
Now, it is important to elevate the foot for the first 48 hours to help drain the fluid. A good heel pad helps here because it will not only elevate the foot but shorten the muscle in your calf and reduce strain. To manage your pain, don’t be afraid to take ibuprofen.
After your doctor says you are 100 percent, work on improving your flexibility in this area using the exercises listed above. You should also do anything your doctor says to help avoid a recurrence. In this way, you can keep your calf muscles strong and stay on the field as much as possible.