Calf and lower leg problems

Lower leg problems can develop acutely or build up over time. If the issues last longer than a week, we always advise to book an appointment with one of our physiotherapists.

 

Anatomy

The lower leg is the part between your knee and your ankle; your shinbone and your fibula. The muscles in your lower leg can be divided into the shin muscles, the calf muscles and the peroneals.

The shin muscles are located on the front of your lower leg. These muscles pull your ankle and your toes up.

The peroneals are on the outside of your lower leg and move your foot and ankle to the side. These muscles also help to stabilize your ankle while moving. The peroneals are often involved and get damanged during ankle sprains.

The calf muscles are in the back of your lower leg. The calfmuscles can be divided into 2 layers The most superficial layer is attached to the Achilles tendon and ensures the vertical displacement when walking or running. The deeper muscles run from your lower leg to your foot and toes. These muscles, together with the peroneals, ensure your horizontal movement.

 

 

Lower leg problems

Many calf injuries and Achilles tendon injuries occur because the deep calf muscles cannot do their work optimally. This is influenced by the way the foot and ankle move or when the training is built up too quickly. This creates an overuse injury in the deep calf muscles themselves, like with shin splints, or the Achilles tendon tries to compensate and becomes overused and irritated.  

Shin Splints

Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome as it is called today, is a collective name for complaints on the inner side of the shinbone. The inside of the shin bone is often sensitive to the touch and can also be irritated, red and swollen.

These complaints are common among runners, soldiers, basketball players, tennis players. The exact cause of these problems varies per person. It can be caused by weakness of the deep calf muscles that run to your foot and toes, but also an overuse injury of the soleus muscle.

Often the underlying cause of this problem lies elsewhere. Often in the foot and/or ankle If the foot and / or ankle are not strong enough, the muscles in the lower leg and calf must compensate and become overused. Only massage of the calf will not solve your problem. Training of the intrinsic muscles of the foot often resolves a lot already.

Achillestendon problems

 

Complaints to the Achilles tendonare  often develop gradually among runners and athletes who make a lot of explosive jumping movements 

The first signs of Achilles tendon injuries are pain or stiffness just above your heel bone when standing up. With rest and dosed movement, your body will normally recover in two weeks.    

If that doesn’t solve it, the problem often increases with:

  • Only stiffness and / or pain the morning after an activity.
  • Pain / stiffness during the warm-up and after the activity.
  • Pain / stiffness during the warm-up, which then subsides and returns during and after the activity.
  • Constant pain during an activity and the first few days after.
  • Constant pain during activities in everyday life.

Often the tendon is also red, swollen, and sensitive to pressure.

What many people don’t know is that Achilles tendon problems are often caused by an immobile forefoot and / or big toe. The forefoot and big toe (+ their muscles) are responsible for the horizontal movement when you walk and run while your Achilles tendon is responsible for the vertical movement. If your forefoot and big toe are stuck, they can’t do their job properly and the Achilles tendon wants to take over. This compensation leads to Achilles tendon irritation and injury.

With long-term Achilles tendon problems that aren’t solved through regular treatment, it is important to look at the rest of the movement chain. For example, the opposite shoulder can also cause problems in the Achilles tendon.  

 

Our treatment

With lower leg problems, it is important to find the underlying cause and what tissue is causing you problem. If you are a runner with a lower leg problem, we’ll also perform a running analysis. This makes it often very clear where the problem is coming from. Also here, we look at the entire movement chain instead of just the problem area. In the treatment we restore proper motion in your muscles and joints so they can move freely again. In addition, you will receive specific exercises to make your lower leg muscles ankle and foot stronger than before you got injured.

If you have questions about your calf and lower leg injury, please feel free to contact one of our therapists. Often we can already give you useful tips that immediately reduce your complaints.

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