Muscle tears

If any of you have been following me on Instagram or Facebook you will have seen that I have recently suffered from a tear to my calf. I managed to do a grade 2 tear to my medial gastrocnemius while playing a hockey match!

What causes a tear?

A tear often occurs when you accelerate suddenly or change direction quickly, there are a few who can tear their calf while walking, but this is VERY rare.

What is a grade 2 tear?

There are different grades of muscles tears, grades range from 1 to 3 (1 being minor, 3 being major).

Grade 1:

Grade 1 tears are a result of mild overstretching which can cause some small micro tears in the muscle fibres. Symptoms are normally quite disabling for the first two to three days, e.g. shortened stride length. In most cases, your recovery will take approximately one to two weeks.

Grade 2:

Grade 2 muscle tears result in partial tearing of your muscle fibres. Full recovery normally takes several weeks (4-6 depending on severity). If you return to high load or high-speed sport too soon it can result in unnecessary re-tear, which is reasonably common in moderate calf tears as you often feel ready, but the muscle is still too weak.

Grade 3:

A grade 3 tear is the most severe calf strain, you can completely tear or rupture your muscle fibres. Diagnostic assessment utilising ultrasound or MRI is recommended for this level of tear as surgery mat be required. Full recovery can take several months and may not be 100% in some instances.


There are 6 stages to recovery when it comes to any muscle tear. Physiotherapy and Sports Massage are vital during recovery.

Phase 1 – Early Injury Protection: Pain Reduction & Anti-inflammatory Phase

RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This is a critical phase and people often say “I don’t have time to ice” – you sit at a desk at work? You can ice it. Watching tv – ICE!

Phase 2 – Regain Full Range of Motion

The torn muscle will successfully repair itself with collagen scar tissue through your body’s natural healing process, this can take up to 6 weeks. During these initial six weeks you must lengthen and massage the area to ensure the tissue isn’t “lumpy” or inflexible. This will prevent re-tearing.

Phase 3 – Restore Concentric Muscle Strength

Your muscle strength and power should be gradually progressed. This involves performing your exercise initially in non-weight bear, before progressing to partial weight bear, full weight bear, and then eventually performing resistance loaded exercises.

Phase 4 – Restore Eccentric Muscle Strength

Using the calf as an example – the muscles work in two directions. They push you up (concentric) and control you down (eccentric). Therefore, VERY controlled Calf raises are ideal recovery at this phase.

Phase 5 – Restore High Speed, Power, Proprioception & Agility

Most tears do occur during high speed movements. Depending on the specific requirements of your sport or lifestyle, your rehab will include exercises and activities that will address your speed, agility and power to reduce your risk of injury reoccurrence (it is also known as Sport-specific training).

Phase 6 – Return to Sport

The perfect outcome will have you performing at full speed, power, agility and function with the added knowledge that a thorough rehabilitation program has minimised your chance of future injury. The key here is to not return too quickly and to have built it up in the gym before returning.


I am 4 weeks post tear now and in phase 4 of recovery at the moment, a lot of calf raises are happening, and I will be moving into phase 5 soon! Although it has been highly frustrating it has helped me to realise that I need to look after myself a bit more, get more massages and foam roll my muscles more regularly. PREVENTION is key and Sports Massage is the answer to this. Feel the niggle sort it out – then hopefully you won’t get to the tear phase like me 😦

3 thoughts on “Muscle tears”

  1. Great information, massages help in relieve pain and can also be a great way to relax. I totally agree with the fact that sports massage can help prevention of injuries. Great massages information are available on this website too.
    Linda Branch


  2. Great information, massages help in relieve pain and can also be a great way to relax. I totally agree with the fact that sports massage can help prevention of injuries.


  3. Great information, massages help in relieve pain and can also be a great way to relax. I totally agree with the fact that sports massage can help the prevention of injuries.


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