With the World Cup final fast approaching, combined with school holidays, people are gathering in parks to kick soccer balls. What a wonderful sight. Fresh winter air, lush green grass and people of all ages enjoying the festivities of the World Cup.
However, one of the most common injuries I’ve seen the last few weeks associated with this sport, is a strained calf muscle (“ouch”)! It is also known as “the old man’s running injury”. The gastrocnemius muscle or the calf muscle as it is commonly known, is located at the back of the lower leg. In Chinese medicine meridian theory, it is located and nourished by the liver channel. It’s hard to imagine how the liver is connected to the calf when they are in different areas of the human body. Interestingly, the liver channel starts on the big toe and goes up the calf and to the thigh. The channel then encircles the genitals.
So why so many strained calf muscles??
As well as a soccer overload, stress can cause muscle tension and muscle tears. The liver is very sensitive to stress. When we are stressed and the blood isn’t effectively flowing around the body, the muscles won’t be nourished. With stagnation, the muscles’ tension can slow the flow of qi/energy, qi/energy moves blood around the channels. Stagnation is a problem because the blood is not moving.
How will I know if I’ve strained the calf muscle?
- Sudden pain at the back of the leg
- Pain, tenderness, swelling or bruising in the calf muscle, worse with movement
What to do if you have strained your calf muscle?
- RICE for up to 6 hours after injury
- Liniment (apple cider vinegar works well)
- See a health care professional.
- Come back slowly
Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture
Acupuncture may assist with improvement in their condition, but if the treatment plan is not followed, a relapse may happen. The underlying treatment principle would involve nourishing & lubricating muscles with blood through stimulating the qi/energy around the body.
Have fun out there and be safe.