Calf of leg stretching
The Calf muscle, on the back of the lower leg, is actually made up of two muscles:
The Gastrocnemius is the larger calf muscle, forming the bulge visible beneath the skin. The Gastrocnemius has two parts or ‘heads’, which together create its diamond shape.
The Soleus is a smaller, flat muscle that lies underneath the Gastrocnemius muscle.
The Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles taper and merge at the base of the calf muscle. Tough connective tissue at the bottom of the calf muscle merges with the Achilles tendon. The Achilles tendon inserts into the heel bone (calcaneus).
During walking, running, or jumping, the calf muscle pulls the heel up to allow forward movement.
A Calf muscle strain injury is common in sports. Calf injuries are also known as a ‘pulled Calf’. The term ‘pulled Calf muscle’ comes from the description of how the injury takes place. Usually the Calf muscle is forcibly stretched beyond its limits and the muscle tissue becomes torn. A tear in the Calf muscle is referred to as a Calf strain and depending on its severity it is classified as a first, second or third degree strain.
With a grade one Calf strain there is a sensation of cramp or tightness, and a slight feeling of pain when the muscles are stretched or contracted. A grade two Calf strain produces more immediate and severe pain; the Calf is sore to touch and there will be bruising below the injury site after a few days. With a grade three Calf strain the patient is unable to move without pain, and there may be a bulge of soft tissue through the muscle layer.