Whether you’re an athlete or a casual sports participant, a calf or hamstring injury can be a game changer. The pain and loss of function associated with these kinds of injuries can be frustrating and feel like they take forever to heal. At BodaHealth, our practitioners offer a wide variety of treatments and healing strategies to help you get back to your regular activities as soon as possible.
There are a number of ways you can injure your calf, but one of the most common is a muscle strain, or a pulled muscle. Your calves are comprised of several muscles at the back of your lower leg, and are engaged when you’re making movements in which you’re pointing your feet or standing on your toes.
A calf strain happens when the muscles are stretched beyond their capacity to accommodate a movement. The most common scenario for a calf muscle strain is during ballistic movements, which are fast, powerful, and explosive. When you see a sprinter bolt at the start of a race or a tennis player suddenly change direction, they’re performing ballistic movements.
In general, strained muscles are graded according to severity, as follows:
A Grade 1 strain involves some small tears to the muscle tissue from being overstretched. Your calf may feel painful, but you are able to continue activity. Estimated recovery time is one to two weeks.
A Grade 2 strain means that there has been a partial tear in your muscle. With this kind of a strain, you will be unable to continue activity, and the pain will be more severe. Recovery time is typically one to two months.
A Grade 3 strain indicates that the muscle has been completely torn or ruptured. The pain can be severe, and your ability to walk is limited. Recovery will likely take several months, and with a complete tear, or where the muscle is torn from the bone, surgical repair may be needed.
While calf strains can affect anyone, they occur most frequently in men, especially those in middle age, who are not well trained for an activity or who have lost conditioning and flexibility over time. In addition, participation in sports that involve ballistic movements, such as soccer, tennis, football, running, jumping, and basketball, raise your overall risk for calf strains.
While calf muscle strains are common, there are a number of other conditions that may also cause calf pain. They include muscle cramps, a contusion (bruise) from direct trauma to the calf, Baker’s cyst, and a tear or rupture to the Achilles tendon, which attaches your calf muscles to your foot.
If you’ve ever watched a professional athlete stop in mid-stride and clutch the back of their thigh, you were witnessing a hamstring strain in action. Hamstring strains or pulled hamstring muscles happen often in athletes who participate in sports that demand quick sprints, such as soccer, short distance track events, tennis, basketball, and football.
You may think that your hamstring is one muscle, but it’s actually made up of three muscles that run from just below your buttocks to slightly below your knee. Like calf muscle strains or any other muscle pull, hamstring strains are graded according to severity. (See above). When it comes to a hamstring pull, the muscle tear occurs most frequently in the belly of the muscle midway between your buttocks and knee, or near either end of the muscle, where the tendon attaches the muscle to bones. In a severe injury, the force of a hamstring pull may cause the muscle to pull away from the bone completely, sometimes taking a small part of the bone with it.
There are a number of factors that may raise your risk of sustaining a hamstring injury. They include having tight muscles or a muscle imbalance, being poorly conditioned, having fatigued muscles, and participating in sports that demand sudden bursts of speed.
Expert Treatment for Calf and Hamstring Injuries
At BodaHealth, we know about sports injuries. Our practitioners also know about treating calf and hamstring injuries and how to prevent future occurrences. We offer a wide number of treatment strategies to relieve your pain, help you heal, and get you back to your regular activities. Here’s how we can help:
-Acupuncture and electric stimulation. The effectiveness of acupuncture for pain relief is well-known, and how it works has been studied for decades. Beyond pain relief, acupuncture works to relax your muscles, reduce inflammation, and increase circulation. It also affects your parasympathetic nervous system, which counterbalances the effects of stress, supports digestion, and promotes healing. For these reasons, acupuncture can be an excellent choice in treating calf or hamstring injuries. In some instances, your acupuncture practitioner may include electric stimulation in your treatment session as a way to better relieve pain and enhance the healing effects of the acupuncture.
-Chinese Medicine. In addition to acupuncture, there are a number of other treatments under the umbrella of Chinese medicine. They include massage-type body work called Tui Na that incorporates acupuncture pathways and points, moxibustion, cupping and Gua Sha, which help break up scar tissue, increase circulation and promote healing.
-Massage Therapy can be an invaluable tool for muscle strains. Our massage therapists are experienced in working with sports injuries. Their goal is to loosen tight muscles, relieve pain, improve circulation to the area, and speed the healing process.
-Pilates, Therapeutic Exercise and Fascial Stretch are important components of your recovery process, especially when it comes to getting back to your sport. Our Pilates and exercise experts focus on your individual needs to help you stretch and strengthen your injured muscles safely and work with you to prevent future injuries.
-Osteopathy. Through musculoskeletal manipulation, our osteopathic practitioner is able to assess and treat your injured calf or hamstring muscle. They are able to diagnose and treat any muscle weaknesses or imbalances that led to your injury, as well as provide targeted treatments to speed your recovery.
-Naturopathic Medicine addresses the health of your whole body. Our naturopathic doctors can assess any nutritional imbalances, digestive problems, or toxicities that you may be experiencing. Their plan for you is to promote systemic health to aid in healing and as a way to reduce inflammation. They are able to prescribe herbal, vitamin, or nutritional supplements and make dietary recommendations for optimal health, healing, and energy.
-Shockwave Therapy treatments involve mild pulses to the injured tissue. It works by creating small impacts through the muscle, which signals your body to initiate a healing response. Shockwave therapy increases circulation to the injured area to deliver nutrients, promote healing, and relieve pain.
-Injection Therapy. Hyaluronic acid is a substance naturally occurring in your body, and is an important component in healing wounds and tissue repair. We offer therapy with hyaluronic acid as well as perineural injection treatments (PIT) that involve injections into or near the injured area to promote healing and reduce pain.
At BodaHealth, our practitioners understand the frustration of being sidelined with an injury. They are ready to help you recover, get back to your active life, and prevent future injuries. If you’re struggling with a calf or hamstring injury, find out today what we can do for you.