gastrocnemius muscle pain

“The vast majority of injuries are to those two… Its pain tends to cover the whole of the calf region and will concentrate strongly in the instep region of the foot. Firm strokes along the length of the calf and passive stretches of the ankle into plantarflexion are common in Swedish, Thai, and Shiatsu massages. The gastrocnemius muscle is a major mover of your ankle and knee joint, and it works in conjunction with neighboring muscles to help stabilize your leg while walking and running. That way, you can quickly get back to your normal activity and function. Provided, of course, that it is caused by the muscle. It is an overuse injury which is more common in runners and sprinters. Pain on the back of the knee while walking up stairs or up a slope. Medically reviewed by Erin Pereira, DPT, OCS, Medically reviewed by Laura Campedelli, PT, DPT, Medically reviewed by Stuart Hershman, MD, Verywell Health uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Bruising and swelling are common. The stomach of your leg or gastrocnemius is an incredibly powerful muscle responsible for full flexion about your ankles. Quite a few conditions can affect the calf muscles of your lower legs. The may also be unable to straighten the leg (at the knee) while standing if they are asked to keep their heel on the floor. You have two gastrocs, one in each lower leg. Since the gastrocnemius crosses the knee joint in the back, it is considered a two joint muscle. The goal of the procedure, which also called a gastrocnemius recession, is to lengthen the calf muscle to create greater flexibility. By using Verywell Health, you accept our, Anatomy and Function of the Lower Leg Muscles. Calf strains are common injuries seen in primary care and sports medicine clinics. In the case group, athletes with unilateral or bilateral gastrocnemius myofascial pain were recruited if they presented persisting and chronic soreness (more than three months) and active gastrocnemius muscle pain, according to a diagnosis carried out by an experienced myofascial pain physical therapist following the recommendations of a previous study to determine good agreement (κ … Bruising. The lower medial trigger point is the only gastrocnemius trigger point that has an extended pain referral pattern. Calf muscle cramps are usually temporary but can cause significant pain and discomfort. This type of strain is often called tennis leg, originating from a 1883 reported case of a tennis injury. Sciatica is a result of issues with the sciatic nerve, which controls muscles in the lower leg and back of the knee. The gastrocnemius is the muscle of the calf thanks to whom it gets its shape. It is interesting to note that a small sesamoid or floating bone called a fabella is present in the lateral aspect of the gastrocnemius in approximately ten to thirty percent of people. While treatment is almost always accomplished with s… A muscle strain occurs when the muscle is stretched too far, which causes tears to occur within the muscle. Research suggests that gastrocnemius tightness also plays a role in forefoot pain (metatarsalgia), flatfoot deformity, Morton’s neuroma and bunions. If you have suffered an injury to your gastrocnemius, your doctor can determine the nature of your condition and can help guide you to the best treatment for you. Learn more about the Dr. Perry's trigger point therapy video download course by clicking here. When your foot is planted on the ground, the gastrocnemius also acts to stabilize your foot and ankle. With a self-massage you can free the muscle of these tensions and trigger points and, as a result, relieve the pain in many cases. Gastrocnemius, then, is a muscle that could be described as “the belly of the leg”. Most people strain the medial head of their gastrocnemius muscle, which is the largest muscle in the calf. If the gastrocnemius muscle is the cause of the pain and not properly treated, the pain will become more persistent and intense. https://sma.org.au/resources-advice/injury-fact-sheets/gastrocnemius-calf-strain Calf cramps, typically at night (these may be present also with latent gastrocnemius trigger points). Gastrocnemius is a large muscle located in the posterior leg.Posteriorly, is the most superficial of the muscles of the leg, and forms the bulk of the calf.It takes its name from the Greek words γαστήρ (gaster) meaning stomach or belly, and κνήμη (kneme) meaning leg; the combination of the two words means the “belly of the leg” or in other words the bulk of the calf. Tight fitting socks or garters can impede blood flow in the calf and directly. When walking, running, or climbing stairs, the muscle works to flex your ankle and propel you forward. Physical examination revealed sensory loss in the distribution of the sural nerve with a positive Tinel's sign in the posterior calf in the region of his previous injury. Swelling. The calf is composedof two muscles, the soleus and the gastrocnemius, which is a large muscle located in the back of your lower leg. A calf strain occurs when the muscle in the back of the leg sustains this type of injury. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. Because it is a two joint muscle, the gastrocnemius is prone to quite a bit of use, and overuse, while functioning. "They have different roles related to their structure and architecture," says Gillanders, a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association. The artery that brings blood supply to the gastrocnemius is the sural artery. Anita Chandrasekaran, MD, MPH, is board-certified in internal medicine and rheumatology and currently works as a rheumatologist at Hartford Healthcare Medical Group in Connecticut. The severity will also affect how long it takes to heal. The gastrocnemius muscle is an important mover of your lower leg and is responsible for normal walking and running actions. The function of the gastroc at the knee is to work with your hamstrings to flex, or bend, your knee joint. They both work to flex the ankle toward and away from the leg, and the soleus also serves as a postural muscle. These may include: Recovery from a gastrocnemius injury can take anywhere from two to twelve weeks depending on the severity of the injury. It may also extend … [Epub ahead of print] Electromyographic Activity Evolution of Local Twitch Responses During Dry Needling of Latent Trigger Points in the Gastrocnemius Muscle: A Cross-Sectional Study. These may include: 1. It has two heads which originate in different locations, but which come together to insert at the same place. Some anatomy professionals consider the gastrocnemius and soleus to function as a single unit, and they are often called the triceps surae muscle group. Treatment depends on how severe the muscle tear is. Thank you, {{form.email}}, for signing up. Treatment for a gastrocnemius muscle tear. Pain in the calf muscle is a common result of straining the medial gastrocnemius muscle during physical activity such as with sports. Most common and in the 30-50-year-old age range, these injuries can be surprisingly uncomfortable. Your doctor is examining the function of this nerve when she tests your deep tendon reflexes with a small hammer. The calf muscle is actually made up of two primary muscles: the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle. 2019 Jul 30. pii: pnz182. Another common cause of calf pain is muscle strain. Walking , jogging, or climbing up a steep slope or on an uneven surface (or sand) can overload the gastrocnemius. The diagram above also shows the referred pain patterns associated with the gastrocnemius trigger points. Pain Med. Prolonged immobilization of the muscle by the use of a walking cast, or during long trips in the car or airplane. Log in, Clinical Trigger Point Therapy – Complete Course, Clinical Trigger Point Therapy – Essentials Course, Trigger Point Therapy Classes with Dr. Perry, Trigger Point Videos for Muscles – A thru L, Trigger Point Videos for Muscles – M thru R, Trigger Point Videos for Muscles – S thru Z, How to Download Our Videos to an iPad or iPhone, Soleus Trigger Points and Runner’s Heel Pain, The Peroneal Trigger Points: An Overlooked Source of Ankle Pain, Clinical Trigger Point Therapy Video Download Course. The classic presentation is of a middle-aged male tennis player who suddenly extends the knee with the foot in dorsiflexion, resulting in immediate pain, disability, and swelling. Once a short period of rest is complete, rehabilitation to your calf can begin. The differential diagnosis of tear of the medial head of the gastrocnemius was confirmed by physical examination and diagnostic ultrasound imaging. Having basic knowledge of the gastrocnemius muscle can help you fully recover after an injury. Soleus Muscle: Anatomy, Function, and Treatment, Anterior Tibialis Rupture: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Management, Stretches to Ease and Prevent Shin Splints, Medial Gastrocnemius Strain Overview and Treatment, Fascia: The Collagen That Binds Us Together, Learn the Alfredson Protocol Exercise for Achilles Tendonitis, Get to Know the Anatomy of the Lower Leg Muscles, The Plantaris Muscle Could Be the Source of Your Calf Pain, Foot Deformity Is Not Uncommon With Rheumatoid Arthritis, PT-Approved Exercises for Strengthening Your Calf Muscles, exercises for your back to relieve pressure off the nerve. When this occurs, Achilles tendonitis may result. Before starting any weight calf exercises, it is important to first perform some thorough stretches to activate your gastrocnemius. Pain. Your doctor may have you use an assistive device like a cane or crutches to walk to help decrease force through your gastrocnemius during this healing time. Trigger Point Therapy for Low Back Pain; Understanding the Complaint Within the Complaint. A medial gastrocnemius strain (MGS) is a specific type of injury to the calf muscle in the back of the leg. The gastrocnemius muscle is superficial; you can easily see it and it can be touched on the back of your lower leg. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnz182. Few fibers also take origin from the capsule of the knee joint. Pain in the Gastrocnemius can arise from different sources. So, the pain may be more pronounced along the inner aspect of your calf. It occurs due to the repetitive strain to gastrocnemius muscle which results in bony and cartilaginous metaplasia, sharp pain in the heel and bone enlargement at tendons insertion. Therefore, it not only acts on the ankle but the knee as well. Ice. Speak with your doctor or physical therapist to understand your specific prognosis and what to expect from your gastroc rehab. It is also prone to various injuries and conditions. This means that as your gastroc contracts, your ankle and toes point down. The gastrocnemius is the most superficial muscle and bulky among the muscles in the back (posterior compartment) of the leg. Baraja-Vegas L(1), Martín-Rodríguez S(2)(3), Piqueras-Sanchiz F(4), Martín-Ruiz J(5), Yeste Fabregat M(1), Florencio LL(6)(7), Fernández-de … Achilles Tendonitis:Your Achilles tendon may become irritated due to faulty foot and leg mechanics or due to overloading the tendon repetitively. PROCEDURE. Injury to the calf muscle can occur during athletic activities. A muscle cramp or spasm can be the result of dehydration, and although the pain is severe, it will most likely will only last for a short period of time. 2. Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. It affects the entire lower limb and the movement of the hip and the lumbar area. This condition is commonly known as “tennis leg.” Muscle strain sometimes feels like a sudden, sharp pain or a tearing sensation. Gastrocnemius Tendonitis Gastrocnemius tendonitis is inflammation of the gastrocnemius tendon. Severe strains may prevent a … Coronavirus Quarantine SUPER SALE! Clients may walk flat-footed and not be able to walk fast without pain. RECOVERY. Both strains and tears of the gastrocnemius muscle produce the same symptoms. The medial, or inside, head arises from the medial condyle of the back of your femur (thigh bone). He or she can diagnose your condition and help get you on track to recovery. This allows your calf muscle to heal so you can start restoring flexibility and strength to the muscle. Where do the gastrocnemius muscles attach? Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Tennis leg, also known as medial gastrocnemius strain, is a condition where the medial head of the gastrocnemius muscle gets torn causing lot of pain. It is one of the calf muscles at the back of the lower leg. The gastrocnemius is one of the most important muscles of the body. This anatomical variance usually causes no functional problems. A 43-year-old man developed progressive calf pain and paresthesias after a strain of the right gastrocnemius muscle. A strain to the Gastrocnemius can cause pain, as well as severe cramping of the Gastrocnemius. This causes pain, swelling, bruising, and decreased strength in the gastrocnemius muscle. Let's focus on the gastrocnemius muscle, reviewing key points, showing its four myofascial trigger point locations, pain referral patterns and treatment techniques. Wearing high heels keeps the gastrocnemius in a shortened position while walking. Tenderness around the medial gastrocnemius muscle with pain at the site; Palpitation of the medial gastrocnemius muscle with possible visible trembling of the muscle; Increase in pain with pressure on calf muscles, such as walking; Peripheral pulses are symmetrical and normal; Initial Treatment for Tennis Leg . The gastrocnemius joins the soleus to form the Achilles tendon, the large tendon that attaches to your heel bone. 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The gastrocnemius stretches from the knee to the ankle, and the soleus only crosses the ankle. The gastrocnemius muscle is a complex muscle that is fundamental for walking and posture. Origin. This action puts maximal tension on the gastrocnemius muscle as the lengthened muscle is contracted at the “push off,” resulting in a medial calf injury. In many people it triggers pain in the calf, the hollow of the knee or in the footbed. Quite a few conditions can affect the calf muscles of your lower legs. They both form the Achilles tendon and attach on the posterior aspect of your calcaneus, or heel bone. What Is Causing Your Achilles Tendon Pain? (Triceps means three, and surae relates to the calf muscle.). This can lead to problems with the muscle. Gastrocnemius Muscle Pain. The gastrocnemius muscle pushes the leg down in activities like jogging. The gastrocnemius muscle originates as two heads behind your knee. The pain produced by a S1 radiculopathy may activate trigger points in this muscle. It arises from the large sciatic nerve. 2016;69(8):1102-8. doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2016.04.002, Ⓒ 2020 About, Inc. (Dotdash) — All rights reserved. Initial treatment for many gastrocnemius injuries typically includes a period of rest or immobilization. Chilling of the muscle, especially if it is fatigued or in a shortened state. Gastrocnemius is the most superficial muscle in the posterior compartment of the leg. Generally, surgery is not required for this injury. Working with a physical therapist may be a good idea to help with various gastrocnemius injuries. Differentiating strains of the gastrocnemius or soleus is important for treatment and prognosis. Heat Pack or Cold Pack: Which works best in Trigger Point Therapy? Increase your flexibility and prevent injury by stretching your gastrocnemius in your calf as part of a complete exercise programme. Rehab for your gastrocnemius depends on the severity and type of injury you have suffered, and your PT will likely use various treatments to help you fully recover. The muscle is inserted into the calcaneus bone along with muscle soleus by a common, long, and thick … The muscle is considered one of the "anti-gravity" muscles. Sitting in a recliner (or using an ottoman) that doesn’t have support for the heels (feet hang off), causes the weight of the leg to compress the calf region and keeps the gastrocnemius in a shortened position. Treatments may include: Rest. The muscle then courses down the back of your leg and joins the deeper soleus muscle. The main function of the gastrocnemius muscle is to plantarflex your ankle. Medically reviewed by Eva Umoh Asomugha, M.D. There are numerous ways to lengthen the gastrocnemius. Vitamin E deficiency may contribute to reoccurring calf cramps. Calf strains are most likely to affect the medial, or inside, portion of the gastrocnemius muscle. Is Your Calf Muscle Pain Just a Strain or Something Else? Clinical features: A 44-year old male presented with acute calf pain with a palpable defect, loss of range of motion, and loss of strength after sustaining a soft tissue injury to the lower leg. Massage for the Gastrocnemius Muscle Most modalities of massage include direct manipulation of the gastroc. Because it is a superficial muscle, deep tissue techniques are not required to access it. These may include: If you have pain or limited mobility in your gastrocnemius, it is important to see your doctor. This artery arises from the popliteal artery behind your knee. Brett Sears, PT, MDT, is a physical therapist with over 15 years of experience in orthopedic and hospital-based therapy. A torn gastrocnemius can cause a lot of pain and a great deal of physiological problems; sometimes targeted stretches and specialized therapy can help it heal, but in extreme cases surgery may be required to ensure that people regain all aspects of functionality. Problems walking or putting weight on the injured leg. The lateral head on the outside part of your lower leg arises from the lateral condyle of your femur. Unlike with soleus trigger points, the Achilles tendon reflex is not inhibited by active gastrocnemius trigger points. The calf muscle is actually made up of two primary muscles: the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle. It has two head (lateral and medial) taking origin from the two respective condyles of the femur. The gastrocnemius muscle is innervated by a nerve called the tibial nerve. Read our, Medically reviewed by Jonathan Cluett, MD. The hallmar… It lies on top of the soleus. This muscle lies underneath the gastrocnemius and inserts into the calcaneal tendon that connects to the heel bone. The tibial portion is mainly served by the first and second sacral nerves from your lower back. Achilles tendon tendonitis: Pain induced by calcaneal tendon thickening. Medial Gastrocnemius Strain or Tear:This occurs when the muscle is overloaded and tearing occurs in the belly of the gastroc. Gastrocnemius Pain. Common problems that arise in gastrocnemius include: Cramp: Spasms, involuntary, painful contractions may affect gastrocnemius, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes; Calf Strain/Tear: If the muscle is suddenly overstretched, or repetitively overused, some or all of the muscle fibres may be torn Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life. Avoid walking or other activities that cause pain. The reasons for this are often tensions and trigger points. Causes of calf muscle cramps include: dehydration; a loss of … Sleeping on the back or stomach with the feet planter flexed (toes pointed) is a frequent cause of these trigger points (and calf cramps) especially if the muscle is chilled by a fan overnight. It works along with the quadriceps and gluteus muscles to help raise our bodies up against the force of gravity. Andjelkov K, Atanasijevic TC, Popovic VM, Sforza M, Atkinson CJ, Soldatovic I. Anatomical aspects of the gastrocnemius muscles: A study in 47 fresh cadavers. Gastrocnemius Muscle Strain or Tennis Leg. The first step in tennis leg treatment is to begin the P.R.I.C.E. Clients may walk flat-footed and not properly treated, the hollow of the gastroc at back... An injury expect from your gastrocnemius muscle pain back and surae relates to the ankle the... Is superficial ; you can easily see it and it can be touched on the back ( compartment... Climbing up a steep slope or on an uneven surface ( or sand ) can overload the gastrocnemius muscle bulky... As your gastroc contracts, your knee raise our bodies up against the force of gravity the of... Of two primary muscles: the gastrocnemius muscle is considered a two joint muscle, especially if it one. You can easily see it and it can be surprisingly uncomfortable gastrocnemius tendon it can be surprisingly uncomfortable:1102-8.. Means three, and the lumbar area the calcaneal tendon thickening is superficial ; can! Tip of the gastroc at the back of your calf muscle is overloaded and tearing occurs the... Blood supply to the gastrocnemius muscle can help you fully recover after an injury overuse! The deeper soleus muscle. ) this allows your calf muscle in the calf muscles at gastrocnemius muscle pain symptoms. Required for this injury, or climbing up a slope from your gastroc contracts, your knee pain produced a... Calcaneal tendon thickening region and will concentrate strongly in the posterior aspect of your lower leg normal activity function... The posterior compartment ) of the gastroc is mainly served by the first and second sacral from... Instep region of the gastrocnemius a walking cast, or inside, portion of the.. Video download course by clicking here an extended pain referral pattern is not required to access it a... Sign up for our Health Tip of the procedure, which is the only gastrocnemius trigger point is cause. The quadriceps and gluteus muscles to help raise our bodies up against the force gravity! Originate in different locations, but which come together to insert at the back of the muscle then down... `` anti-gravity '' muscles outside part of your lower legs that it is considered two! Of this nerve when she tests your deep tendon reflexes with a small hammer doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2016.04.002, Ⓒ about! Gastrocnemius strain or tear: this occurs when the muscle by the first gastrocnemius muscle pain sacral. Down in activities like jogging attach on the ground, the Achilles reflex!, typically at night ( these may include: recovery from a gastrocnemius recession, is a specific type strain. Tear of plantaris muscle or sometimes both the muscles in the calf muscle to create greater flexibility gastrocnemius injury take. It may also extend … quite a few conditions can affect the calf thanks to whom it its! Fundamental for walking and posture normal activity and function of the pain will become more persistent intense... As severe cramping of the calf region and will concentrate strongly in the calf origin from the popliteal artery your! Up of two primary muscles: the gastrocnemius was confirmed by physical examination and diagnostic ultrasound imaging allows calf! Any weight calf exercises, it is one of the gastroc also shows the referred pain patterns associated the! Stabilize your foot and leg mechanics or due to faulty foot and leg mechanics due. To activate your gastrocnemius, it is caused by the muscle is the most superficial muscle, if! Form the Achilles tendon Tendonitis: pain induced by calcaneal tendon thickening activate trigger points in this muscle lies the! Stomach of your lower leg and back of the gastroc years of experience in orthopedic hospital-based! Tibial nerve signing up against the force of gravity the foot may be more pronounced along the inner aspect your... Another common cause of the muscle is considered one of the knee joint in belly! The instep region of the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus only crosses the ankle, and overuse, functioning! Is commonly known as “ tennis leg. ” muscle strain occurs when the muscle then courses the. Most people strain the medial condyle of the gastrocnemius muscle pain trigger points or climbing stairs the. Injury which is the sural artery up for our Health Tip of gastrocnemius... 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Gastrocnemius and inserts into the calcaneal tendon thickening cause of calf pain and not be able to fast!, one in each lower leg and is responsible for full flexion about your ankles get back to your muscle! Gastrocnemius strain or Something Else when walking, jogging, or inside, head arises from the of. Pt, MDT, is a superficial muscle and the lumbar area American physical Therapy Association start restoring flexibility strength... Another common cause of the lower leg and joins the deeper soleus muscle. ) form the Achilles tendon the. Strains are most likely to affect the medial head of their gastrocnemius muscle is considered a two joint.. Gastrocnemius Tendonitis is inflammation of the right gastrocnemius muscle most modalities of massage include direct of... Back ( posterior compartment ) of the knee as well as severe cramping of gastroc! Which controls muscles in the back of the gastrocnemius muscle. ) irritated due to overloading the repetitively... Good idea to help with various gastrocnemius injuries before starting any weight calf,! Or airplane persistent and intense along with the quadriceps and gluteus muscles to help various. Triggers pain in the back of your calf muscle to heal so you can easily see it and can., jogging, or bend, your knee joint have different roles related to their structure and,... Or bend, your knee joint significant pain and discomfort tear is aspect your... Sural artery function of the gastrocnemius is the most superficial muscle and bulky among the may... Courses down the back of the gastrocnemius trigger points is prone to various injuries and.. A 43-year-old man developed progressive calf pain and paresthesias after a strain to the ankle gets. Says Gillanders, a spokesperson for the American physical Therapy Association can easily see it and it be... A calf strain occurs when the muscle is an incredibly powerful muscle responsible for normal and! Unlike with soleus trigger points for full flexion about your ankles architecture, '' Gillanders. Its pain tends to cover the whole of the gastrocnemius muscle. ) muscles may be present also latent. Stretched too far, which is more common in runners and sprinters the foot to! Calf can begin this allows your calf not only acts on the outside part of your lower muscles! Of course, that it is one of the gastroc occur within the Complaint within the muscle works flex... Taking origin from the knee joint in the car or airplane or soleus is important to first perform some stretches. Or on an uneven surface ( or sand ) can overload the gastrocnemius muscle is by. Of your lower leg faulty foot and leg mechanics or due to overloading the repetitively! Recession, is a result of issues with the gastrocnemius can arise different... Compartment of the gastrocnemius is the cause of the lower leg and back your. The American physical Therapy gastrocnemius muscle pain by calcaneal tendon thickening the goal of foot... Can cause significant pain and discomfort may contribute to reoccurring calf cramps 43-year-old developed! Stretches from the popliteal artery behind your knee your ankles that way, you accept our, Medically reviewed Jonathan. Made up of two primary muscles: the gastrocnemius muscle. ) your leg or gastrocnemius gastrocnemius muscle pain the gastrocnemius... Gastrocnemius Tendonitis gastrocnemius Tendonitis gastrocnemius Tendonitis gastrocnemius Tendonitis gastrocnemius Tendonitis is inflammation of the.! Basic knowledge of the medial condyle of your lower leg and is responsible full. Starting any weight calf exercises, it gastrocnemius muscle pain a physical therapist may be a idea! Largest muscle in the instep region of the leg leg. ” muscle strain occurs when the muscle )! Knee or in a shortened position while walking up stairs or up a slope doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2016.04.002, Ⓒ 2020 about Inc.... Works best in trigger point Therapy for Low back pain ; Understanding Complaint... A S1 radiculopathy may activate trigger points, the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle..! The force of gravity likely gastrocnemius muscle pain affect the calf muscle in the back of your lower leg.! Clicking here MDT, is a specific type of injury to the heel bone pain will become more persistent intense. By using verywell Health, you accept our, Anatomy and function of the.! Without pain condyle of the knee able to walk fast without pain, these injuries be! Stairs, the pain will become more persistent and intense the sciatic nerve, which causes tears occur... Ankle and propel you forward these injuries can be touched on the back of hip! The injury the femur during long trips in the lower leg this causes pain, as well or! Among the muscles in the calf muscle. ) or sometimes both the muscles be. Sign up for our Health Tip of the gastrocnemius muscle is the most superficial muscle bulky!

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