Strength Testing with Calf Raises

assessment Feb 15, 2018

The calves play a significant role in daily life, as well as in many sporting endeavours. As a result, injury to the gastrocnemius, soleus, Achilles tendon, and triceps surae muscle-tendon unit is common, with the calf raise test (CRT) often employed clinically for diagnosis and monitoring purposes (Hebert-Losier, Schneiders, Newsham-West, & Sullivan, 2009).

This can be accomplished either by bodyweight or using a calf raise machine. Importantly, differentiation between the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles should be considered for more accurate identification of contributing muscles, with the gastrocnemius playing a dominant role in full knee extension due to its biarticular nature, whilst in contrast, the soleus is favoured during varying degrees of knee flexion (Hebert-Losier, Newsham-West, Schneiders, & Sullivan, 2009).

From the research we find that:

  • Six months following ACL reconstruction, an average unilateral calf strength deficit of 8% was present, as measured by testing procedures dictating greater than 25 repetitions and a difference between sides of five or less on the CRT, likely to significantly affect loading absorption and propulsion during running (Schlumberger, 2002)
  • For endurance athletes with suspected Achilles injury, a soleus-biased CRT should be considered due to the soleus’ high involvement in repetition-based exercise (Hebert-Losier et al., 2009)
  • For racquet-sport athletes, a gastrocnemius-biased CRT should be conducted due to the gastrocnemius’ predisposition for explosive contraction (Hebert-Losier et al., 2009) 
  • The CRT should be implemented with testing parameters applicable to the individual patient (Kolt, & Snyder-Mackler, 2007)

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