This content was last reviewed in September 2019 by Jo Poolman, a registered nurse and team manager in our Health at Hand team.
It certainly appears that you could have stretched or torn some of the muscle fibers in your calf from your description. The ‘snap’ or twinge’ that you are describing can certainly be a feature of Grade 1 or Grade 2 muscle strains, where some of the muscle fibers have torn.
The symptoms of stretched or torn/ruptured calf muscle fibres can include the following, depending upon the grade of strain.
The causes of calf strain are typically due to sports that require sudden changes in the direction of play when undertaking the sport or when performing jumping activities related to the sport. The muscle fibres can become overstretched and even rupture or tear.
Muscle strains are graded on a scale of 1-3, with a Grade 3 tear being the most severe. The grading of the calf strain is dependent upon some of the following factors:
During the sports activity a ‘snap’ or ‘twinge’ may be heard or felt at the site of the injury. Often sports people can continue in their sporting activity and discomfort increases following the injury. In a Grade 1 calf strain, there will be tightness or aching in the calf muscles generally 24hrs after completion of the sport. This type of strain will take 2-4 weeks recovery and rarely needs a healthcare professionals input in its management. You would generally see a healthcare professional when you have tried the home management of the strain and there is no improvement in the symptoms, for example walking is difficult or when there is worsening of the symptoms ,which usually means more pain and swelling is being experienced in the calf. In this type of strain, most of the muscle fibers are overstretched rather than torn.
A Grade 2 strain has significant pain at the time of the injury; it will result in difficulty walking and you may have bruising in the following days after the injury. A ‘snap’ may be heard or a ‘twinge’ may be felt. A Grade 2 strain may take 4-8 weeks to heal. In this type of strain there are a greater number of muscle fibers torn rather than overstretched.
This is the most severe type of strain and it is where most of the muscle fibers have actually ruptured or are torn about 100%). It is unlikely that a sportsperson will be able to carry on playing their sport with a Grade 3 tear. With a Grade 3 tear it is likely that the sportsperson will hear a ‘pop’ rather than a snap or feel a ‘twinge’ in the calf. With a Grade 3 tear it is very difficult to use the leg following the injury. This type of injury needs an input from your general practitioner and physiotherapist to help you recover from the injury. The recovery period can be greater than 3 months in some cases for this grade of strain.
We would suggest that you contact your general practitioner or physiotherapist to confirm the diagnosis and the grade of the strain that you have. This assessment would be to confirm the management of your injury and strive to get you back to playing tennis as soon as is possible. Typically the management of strains includes the following:
We hope that this information has helped.
Answered by the Health at Hand team.
We’re here to help you take care of your health - whenever you need us, wherever you are, whether you're an AXA Health member or not.
Our Ask the Expert service allows you to ask our team of friendly and experienced nurses, midwives, counsellors and pharmacists about any health topic. So if there's something on your mind, why not get in touch now.