Muscle Strains & Podiatry

Muscles of your leg, ankle & foot make up about half of the weight of this part of the body and they are required to make even the smallest of movements such as moving your ankle when you walk or run or just tapping your toe.  If too much stretch is put through one of your muscles, you may end up with a painful muscle strain.

What causes a muscle strain?

A muscle strain, or a muscle pull occurs when a muscle in your lower limb is overstretched or overworked.  Even if the injury from overstretching or overworking occurs more to the attaching tendon it can also be classified under the term muscle strain.

How are muscle strains classified?

There are 3 grades. All muscle strains include tearing of some muscle fibres:

Grade I (mild): Very few muscle fibres have been injured. Pain may not be felt until the following day after the instigating activity. No swelling or bruising is noted.

Grade II (moderate): With this category many muscle fibres are torn which results in a decrease in strength and often limited movement.  Some muscle fibres remain uninjured and intact. Pain is present both when stretching the muscle and on muscle strength testing. Swelling and bruising may be noted.

Grade III (severe): All fibres of the muscle are completely torn. Severe swelling, pain, and bruising accompany a grade III strain.

How are muscle strains treated?

The initial approach to Podiatry of your muscle strain will depend on how long after your injury that you seek treatment.  The immediate line of defence straight after a muscle strain should be the application of ice and compression, followed by rest and elevation for the affected muscle.

Once the initial pain and inflammation has calmed down, your Podiatrist will focus on improving the flexibility and strength of the involved muscle. Static stretches to increase the flexibility of the muscle will be prescribed by your Podiatrist early on in your treatment as these types of stretches encourage the healing tissues to withstand stretch and they ensure that you do not lose any normal movement.

Rest is also an important part of your Podiatry treatment.  ‘Relative rest’ is a term used to describe a scale of resting compared to the normal activity you would be doing.

Along with stretching exercises, your Podiatrist will also prescribe strengthening exercises in order to get your strained muscle back in top shape.

In addition to stretching and strengthening the muscle, taping or wrapping the affected muscle with an elastic bandage may be done by your Podiatrist in order to assist initial swelling, and to provide support to the muscle as you rehabilitate it.  As well your Podiatrist may use some of the following approaches to aid in the recovery of your strained muscle: massage, dry needling, joint mobilisation, heat (later) & even custom orthotics in your shoes to aid with correct lower limb alignment which may further aid in preventing re-injury.

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