It was cruel timing when Gareth Bale limped off the pitch this past Sunday in Real Madrid's 5-1 demolition of Sporting Gijón. The 26-year-old Welshman was taken off moments before halftime clutching his right calf.
Bale, who has been red hot the past two months, will miss the next two to three weeks after tests at the Sanitas La Moraleja University Hospital confirmed he had a soleus muscle injury in his right leg. Bale had already been sidelined twice this season with calf problems, missing roughly two weeks each time.
The soleus is one of three major muscles in the calf. It can be strained during vigorous running, sprinting or jumping activities. A strain typically occurs when a muscle is stretched out and then contracted forcefully in the opposite direction, resulting in a pull or tear in the muscle, according to Cook Children's Health Care System. A torn calf muscle is also known as a calf strain.
The strain is rated by degrees — however, Real Madrid has not yet released those details about Bale's strain. First degree strain damages only some of the muscle fibers; second degree damages many more fibers; and third degree is an actual rupture of the muscle, according to echiropractor.org.
Rest is the most crucial treatment for calf injuries, and it is also important to follow RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to stop any more damage from occurring. Grade three ruptures can require surgery along with a three-month rehabilitation period. Stretching is an important key in the rehab process to help prevent further injuries. Patients can also use athletic tape, a foam roller and exercise bands to help strengthen the muscles in the calf.
Bale has finally started to look like the dynamic player Real Madrid fans had hoped for after overcoming a calf injury he sustained in October. On Sunday, Bale opened the scoring in the seventh minute against Sporting, his ninth goal in the last five games. He also tallied an assist to give him three in the last five games. Bale now has 13 goals and is in the hunt for the Pichichi Trophy, given to the top goalscorer for each league season in La Liga.
Bale could be ready for the league match with Athletic Bilbao Feb. 13 or against Roma Feb. 17, reports NDTV Sports.