Intense Pain at the Back of the Leg? You Might Have Tennis Leg!With the Australian Open in full swing, there’s no doubt that many of us will feel encouraged to get out our rackets and hit the court. Alongside the fun nature of tennis come the high-impact forces on the muscles and joints that can cause serious injury and pain. One of these injuries is commonly referred to as Tennis Leg - but what is it and what are the signs? The Podiatrist talks Tennis Leg!
What is Tennis Leg and how is it caused? Tennis leg describes the injury to one or more of the calf muscles, namely the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles. Injury occurs when you strain or pull the muscle past a point that it can handle, after which it tears. It’s this tear to part of the gastroc muscles that typically causes the painful symptoms. It’s referred to as Tennis Leg because the movements in tennis make you more prone to calf injuries, although you can sustain this during various other sports too.
What causes Tennis Leg? Any movements and activities that overload and strain the calves can result in a tear. Often this involves jumping or pushing off from the ground, and typically occurs when the knee is straight. In tennis, it’s the sudden stops, quick changes in direction, increased court grip and fast acceleration that strains the calves - and then suddenly it feels like you’ve been shot in the back of the leg!
Those in or above middle age are also at a higher risk of developing tennis leg as the muscles are in the early stages of degeneration.
What are the symptoms? Symptoms are located in the middle of the calf at the back of the leg and can include:
- A sharp, burning pain
- Described as the feeling of being shot in the back of the leg
- Bruising and inflammation
- Inability to walk on the leg
- Weakness around the ankle and/or difficulty moving it