[Podcast] Calf injuries and running

profile picture of Anika Kainth
Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Bupa
03 May 2024
Next review due May 2027

I’m pleased to introduce you to the first episode of Joint Approach: The Bupa Physio Podcast. This podcast will focus on everything to do with MSK (musculoskeletal) health. We cover topics related to the muscles, bones and joints. Each episode will take an in-depth look at a particular MSK subject.

In this episode, former Bupa physiotherapist Adam Byrne speaks to Steve Miller, who has over a decade's worth of experience. This includes clinics, professional rugby and experience at the London Olympics and Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Steve shares his wealth of knowledge in this episode.

What are the most common calf injuries?

Common injuries in the calf happen in the gastrocnemius muscle. This is a muscle in the back of the lower leg. It is made of two heads. Other muscles in the calf include the soleus which is deep in the gastrocnemius.

There is also a smaller muscle called the plantaris muscle. Calf muscles are important for running, jumping and explosive movements.

Key points from the podcast conversation

  • As MSK physiotherapists, we see calf strains, tears and injuries regularly.
  • Calf injuries can happen when people start running for the first time. They can also happen if you resume running after a long break or if you increase the intensity, frequency, and duration of your running too quickly. These injuries can also happen outside of sports. For example, when you're running for the bus.
  • The two tears that we generally see are in the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. If you tear your gastrocnemius muscle, you’ll usually be very aware of it in the moment. That’s not always the case if you tear your soleus, which can be more subtle.
  • A tear of the soleus often happens when people are introducing themselves back into running at a slower pace. There seems to be evidence that the increased ground contact time from slower runs contributes to your risk.
  • Running more lightly, with less of an impact on the ground and an increased number of strides, can be part of preventing calf injuries.
  • Strengthening up your calf complex forms a crucial part of your recovery from injuries, which will enable to you to safely return back to your sports.

There are many more points that we cover in the full conversation. So, do have a listen above, and please subscribe through your podcast app to keep up to date with future episodes.

Our experienced doctors and therapists can help treat problems with your body's muscles, bones and joint mobility. Learn more about our musculoskeletal services, without the need for insurance.

profile picture of Anika Kainth
Anika Kainth
Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Bupa



Rasheda Begum, Health Content Editor at Bupa UK

    • Hsu D, Chang KV. Gastrocnemius Strain. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Updated August 2023
    • Binstead JT, Munjal A, Varacallo M. Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb: Calf. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-. Last updated May 2023

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