What is the Difference Between a Calf Muscle Pull & Achilles Tendon Tear?

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A calf pull is an injury where one or more muscles in the calf are strained, which can tear muscle tissue. An Achilles tear occurs when the Achilles tendon itself is damaged; some may use the terms interchangeably.

Function

  • The Achilles tendon is a tough band of tissue that connects the muscles of the calf to the bones of the foot at the heel; when the muscles of the calf contract, they put pressure on the Achilles tendon, allowing the foot to move up and down.

Effects

  • Both calf pulls and Achilles tendon tears can have a debilitating effect on walking, making the injured leg unable to bear weight or push off powerfully with the toes.

Treatment

  • Muscle pulls can usually be treated by resting the affected muscle; mild tendon tears may heal with rest, but more severe tendon tears may require surgery for proper mending.

Prevention

  • Stretching the Achilles tendons and the calf muscles before and after exercise can increase their flexibility, which can reduce the chances of tears.

Risk Factors

  • Athletes who participate in high-impact activities like football tend to be at high risk of incurring calf injuries; a sudden, forceful reduction in the angle between the top of the foot and the shin can result in both Achilles tears and calf pulls.

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