Hyperextension injuries are common amongst runners and other athletes. Calf muscle injuries often occur during a workout that involves running or jumping when the muscle is not pliable. Since the calf is a muscle and not a joint, it cannot hyperextend, although it is possible to stretch it beyond its capacity, resulting in a muscle strain.
Hyperextension Vs. Strain
Hyperextension happens when a joint stretches beyond its normal capacity. This occurs when playing sports or exercising and when performing any movement that causes the joints to bend in an unnatural way. Common hyperextension injuries occur at the wrist, elbow, shoulder and knee. A knee hyperextension injury can cause damage to ligaments in the knee and, depending on how the injury occurred, you can also pull your calf muscle. A stretched calf muscle is called a calf strain. Although it has been pulled beyond its normal capacity, it is not considered a hyperextension injury.
Calf strains are categorized into three grades. A grade 1 calf injury causes your calf to feel tight and you may feel twinges of pain. A grade 1 injury lasts two to five days. A grade 2 calf strain causes sharp pain, pain when walking, swelling, bruising and tightness and can last for a week or longer. A grade 3 injury causes severe pain, an inability to voluntarily contract your calf muscle and calf rupture.
Treatment for calf strain involves rest, ice, compression and elevation, also known as RICE. For minor calf strains, RICE and pain relieving ointment can be used for treatment. For severe strains, use ice as soon as possible to stop any internal bleeding and keep your leg elevated. If you have severe pain, seek medical treatment immediately.
Prevent calf strain by stretching your calves properly before working out. Making your calf muscle more pliable and flexible reduces the risk of a strain. Flexibility is achieved through stretching the area before working out or playing sports. However, be careful not to stretch your calf to the point of pain. Pain is a good indication that the muscle has been overstretched, which increases your risk of a calf strain.