Antonio Brown’s Sunday afternoon was cut short due to injury. He was looking to make a play in the end zone and didn’t get back up. He injured his left calf and was taken to the hospital. Initially watching the play you think it’s a just a strain of the calf, particularly the proximal portion. But with them taking him to the hospital, he must have expressed greater concern for an MRI to be taken to determine the severity of the injury.
If you’re watching the video, there’s not a distinct time where you can say “Oh that’s where it occurred.” It looked like he may have had his left leg rolled on which called the calf to “overstretch” causing the slight tear.
He is out for a few weeks for recovery. Given the vascular nature of the calf, it is said he’ll be back for the playoffs. With Pittsburgh potentially earning a first round bye, he’ll have 4 weeks to recover. But if they do not earn a first round bye, he’ll have 3 weeks to recover.
His recovery will probably entail a lot of manual work, stretching, mobilization, and eventually exercise to promote rebuilding and remodeling of the damaged muscle. While it’s unknown the exact location of the tear, my guess is that it’s closer to the knee than the ankle. Which means he likely damaged the “head” of calf muscle as opposed to potentially the tendinous junction before it becomes the Achilles tendon. Furthermore, remember the “calf” muscle is two different muscles: the gastrocnemius (more commonly known) and the soleus.
The soleus muscle sits underneath the gastrocnemius muscle. They didn’t disclose the location of the tear, how deep the tear is, and which muscle was actually partially torn. If it’s closer to any of the tendinous attachments (which appear in white), those locations have less of a blood supply than the areas in red. They are in white because they are less vascular and are required to be stronger and more resistant to forces than that of the muscle.
What Could I Do?
I always like to preface, that he is apart of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s getting treatment every hour on the hour if he so chooses. He’ll have ultrasound, instrument assisted soft tissue work, he’ll have massage therapy an active release technique, someone will be stretching him out at all times.
But if I’m seeing someone who has injured their calf, we’re just going to show them the difference between a gastrocnemius stretch and a soleus stretch.
Then we are going to show them how to mobilize the lower leg, as opposed to just having them do a 30-60 second stretch and hold.
Afterwards, we’ll do manual on their lower leg, via Active Release Technique. Working the gastrocnemius, the soleus, and other deep [smaller] muscles. And then we reintegrate exercises to help strengthen them muscle. It’s more than just calf raises. We have to test out whether he has the push-off power and explosiveness in his lower leg.
We start with calf raises and calf lowering, but for him to return to form, he then will go through jogging, sprinting, and cutting to determine if he’s ready, which in 2-4 weeks, I think he will be.