What is Tennis Leg?

“Tennis leg,” a term coined in 1883 by R.W. Powell after experiencing sudden calf pain while playing tennis, continues to be a significant concern among athletes engaging in sports involving sudden movements, particularly those requiring knee extension and ankle dorsiflexion flexing foot with toes pointing up to the roof). This condition refers to acute mid-calf pain commonly associated with activities like jumping or pushing off, frequently observed in tennis players.

Historically, the plantaris tendon rupture has been implicated as the primary cause of tennis leg pain. However, recent advancements in diagnostic imaging, including sonography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have revealed that the majority of cases are actually attributed to injury or rupture of the medial head of the gastrocnemius and/or soleus muscles, collectively known as the calf muscles. Surprisingly, deep venous thrombosis accounts for up to 10% of tennis leg cases, often mimicking muscle injury symptoms. The involvement of the plantaris muscle and tendon in this injury is relatively rare compared to the more commonly affected calf muscles.

Tennis leg typically appears as a sudden onset of pain in the upper calf region, followed by difficulty walking on the toes due to impaired calf muscle function. This presentation underscores the importance of accurate diagnosis to guide appropriate clinical management and ensure optimal patient outcomes.

The condition predominantly affects middle-aged athletes, particularly those participating in sports requiring explosive movements and rapid changes in direction, such as tennis, basketball, or sprinting. The mechanism of injury often involves sudden knee extension, leading to excessive stretching or tearing of the musculotendinous junction of the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle.

Does this sound like a condition you are suffering from? We offer services that can aid in your recovery!

Call (02) 9639 7337 or visit our website to book an appointment now!

Domeracki SJ. “Tennis Leg”: A State-of-the-Science Review. Workplace Health & Safety. 2021;69(4):182-186. doi:10.1177/2165079920961966

Harwin, J.R. and Richardson, M.L., 2017. “Tennis leg”: gastrocnemius injury is a far more common cause than plantaris rupture. Radiology case reports, 12(1), pp.120-123.

Book Now With Precision Health today and take the first step towards better health!

Book Now

Take care of your health with precision!

Precision Health Spine & Sports clinic treats a diverse range of neuromuscular and skeletal biomechanical disorders. Whether you are having trouble with your knees, you have a pain in the neck, or if you are just feeling stiff and sore, we can help you with our suite of treatment options that can be tailored especially for you. Take a look at the wide range of disorders we can help you with. Whether you need chiropractic treatment, remedial massage, physiotherapy, podiatry or a combination of disciplines, we have the expertise to decrease your pain and discomfort and increase your mobility and quality of life.