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You’ve Heard of Tennis Elbow, but how about “Tennis Leg”?

Everyone has heard of tennis elbow, but few people are familiar with a what is being termed “tennis leg”. Tennis leg is a strain, tear, or complete rupture of the gastrocnemius, which is the larger of the two muscles in the calf. Tennis and soccer players, among others, can injure the muscle by pushing off or moving forward quickly.

“Tennis leg seems to be an injury that occurs after the age of 40,” explains Gary Levengood, M.D., an Atlanta orthopedic surgeon interviewed on the USTA website. Patients who sustain this injury often describe the pain as feeling like being shot or kicked in the leg. Although it could be further down the leg, the pain is usually felt about four inches below the crease of the knee on the inside part of the calf. Additionally, it will be difficult to walk, the area may become discolored and/or swollen. In more severe cases, there is a noticeable depression in the muscle.

Initially, self treatment should include rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE principles). Dr. Levengood states “return to physical activity will be faster if a physician treats the injury and prescribes a program of rehabilitation”. Physical Therapy for this type of injury may consist of modalities such as electrical stimulation, or ultrasound for decreasing pain and inflammation, specific exercises to maintain flexibility and gradually build strength, and manual therapy techniques to promote muscle relaxation and proper healing of the injured muscle tissue. Additionally, at Body in Balance Physical Therapy, we will look for any underlying problems which may have been a contributing factor to the injury, such as improper biomechanics of the foot/ankle. We also educate our patients on a proper, sport specific warm-up to prevent the injury from recurring. Depending on the severity of the injury, recovery can take 2-6 wks.

Body in Balance Physical Therapy continues to offer free, 15 minute screenings. Call us to set up an appointment if you think you may have suffered from “tennis leg” at 262.369.7941!


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