Recurring lower leg strains of Albert Pujols

The troublesome left calf of Albert Pujols has struck again. This time, the Cardinals would be wise to shut him down to prevent further damage. In fact, they may have no choice but to shut him down after Tuesday night’s injury.

He left the batter’s box on a weak ground ball to first base in the seventh inning against the Reds and almost immediately pulled up lame and fell to the ground on the infield grass. He was carried off the field with assistance of two people, placing very little weight through the lower leg—indicating it was strained pretty badly.

The left calf has been hindering Pujols since June 3, and the fact that he continues to struggle with it means it had not healed as he continued to play. He also dealt with tightness of the left calf late in the 2007 season. Perhaps the bigger concern to me is that he has recurring calf tightness/strains, as well as a history of chronic plantar fasciitis of both feet. These two injuries are so closely interrelated that I felt the need to shed light on the topic.

As a clinician, to me this screams “biomechanical faults” (of the lower leg/feet).

If Pujols were a client of mine, I would immediately address any biomechanical faults at the foot, and assess his foot position. The feet are largely ignored when assessing lower extremity orthopedic pathology, and they should not be. Tight calves often accompany those with pronated (flat) feet, and the tighter the calves become, the more the foot is forced into a pronated (flattened) posture. When this happens, it places excessive stress on the plantar fascia, which runs from the heel to the metatarsals (balls of your feet).

I am not saying that Pujols definitely has pronated feet because I have no idea—this could just be a case of bad luck, poor healing/overuse, or other extraneous factors. However, I would certainly start by assessing his foot position, and perhaps by placing him in full-contact custom orthotics to position his foot in the optimal posture so that he is less likely to strain his calf.

It sounds like it is time to address the cause, and not just the symptoms!

Meanwhile, Chris Duncan is likely packing his bags, getting ready for the call-up to replace Pujols. He is a more-than-adequate replacement while Pujols recovers.

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