Yeah, so it’s always fun with the media doesn’t really dig into a story. For instance, Albert Pujols hits a groundball, takes a step to run the bases and goes down like he’s shot. The St. Louis Cardinals are calling it a strained calf, which is funny considering it’s a torn calf muscle.
There are a couple of things you need to know before we continue discussing a torn calf muscle:
- The calf muscle is actually two muscles. Yep, it’s silly, but we still refer to it in the singular. The two muscles that make up the calf are soleus and gastrocnemius. The soleus is the one deeper down, while the gastrocnemius is the one closest to the skin.
- Your calf muscle is used for two reasons. Movement and stabilization. You wouldn’t be able to walk without a functional calf muscle.
In most cases when a calf train is suspected the calf muscle is torn. There are various degrees of tearing, which is what the crack Cardinals medical staff will ascertain.
How do you tear your calf muscle? You know your calf muscle is one tough muscle, but it can tear. The easiest way to do it is sudden acceleration when your leg isn’t ready. Albert tore his when he started running from the batter’s box. I tore my cald hustling from the baseline to the net in tennis.
What are the symptoms of a torn calf muscle? Pain. Immediate pain. You’ll also hear a popping noise and you’ll lose the ability to walk normally. Some people, including myself, describe it as being shot. You are running normally, hear a pop and you’re down. As the minutes pile up after the initial injury you’ll notice swelling, more pain and bruising. You won’t be able to walk normally.
How do you treat a torn calf muscle? I wish there was a magic pill or something, but the only way to treat it is your standard heat, ice, rest, etc. In the case of major calf damage, surgery might be required. In 90% of the cases, though, rest and standard sprain type treatments work the best. Narcotic pain medication not only help you deal with the pain, but help you forget you won’t be playing for a couple of months.
How long does it take to recover from a torn calf muscle? The first thing you need to do is wait for the internal bleeding to stop. Unlike some other injuries where you want to keep movement occurring, you don’t with a torn calf muscle. This inactivity leads to a delay in recovery. In most cases you’ll be back up and participating in two months.
Everyone is hoping that Pujols’ tear isn’t that bad, but I think it’s worse than the Cardinals are letting on. With a minor calf tear you can “walk it off” while playing. When Pujols went down last night it looked like he’d been shot. Not good.