Gastro-what? You've just found out you have an injured gastrocnemius muscle. This probably happened at the same time you found out you actually have a gastrocnemius muscle. So let's answer all your questions about this topic. Ready? Here we go!
While it may sound like some sort of upset stomach problem, the gastrocnemius is a leg muscle located below the knee. Flanked by the
According to Healthline, "The flexing of this gastrocnemius muscle during walking and bending of the knee creates traction on the femur, pulling it toward the tibia in the lower leg and causing the knee to bend." In other words, the gastrocnemius is a huge part of your running gait, and an injury to it, even a slight one, can make both walking and running difficult.
I can tell you first hand that it is not a fun injury. Mine occurred during a basketball game. I turned to get back on defense, planted my right leg and when I pushed off to start my sprint you could audibly hear the pop and the pain was immediate. It also kept swelling until it looked like the injured calf was almost twice the size of the healthy one. At first I thought it was my Achilles that tore since the injury seemed to occur in the same region and we often hear about people hearing the pop when that tendon is torn. But the swelling was all in the calf region and it turned out it was a gastrocnemius tear. Crutches in the winter are always fun!
Pain will likely be your guide in determining the grade of your injury, but it never hurts to see a doctor. An MRI or ultrasound can definitively determine the proper grade of your injury. Physio Works details the different grades of strains:
Grade one calf muscle tears are a result of mild overstretching resulting in some small micro tears in the calf muscle fibers.
Grade two calf muscle tears result in partial tearing of your muscle fibers. Full recovery normally takes several weeks with good rehab.
A grade three calf tear is the most severe calf strain with a complete tearing or rupture of your calf muscle fibers.
- Stretching. The gastrocnemius is like any other muscle in the body. If it's overworked and not stretched correctly the odds of an injury skyrocket.
- Rest. You can run through a mild gastrocnemius muscle injury if it's just a small strain. This assumes you are dealing with a grade 1 strain.
Compression is great as it works on a number of levels. It can be used for treating pain and injury but also helps to prevent injury. Compression improves blood flow, which is a key in keeping muscles loose and ready to work. Run Forever Sports Compression Sleeves feature professional grade compression which helps decrease pain as well as swelling. They also decrease muscle vibration by "hugging" the calf muscles, which in turn creates more stability as you run.
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So now you know about your gastrocnemius muscle and how to treat and prevent gastrocnemius injuries. Make sure to get your Run Forever Sports Compression Socks and Compression Sleeves to keep those calves healthy and supported!