Home Injuries Calf Strain

Calf Strain

Calf Strain

Description Of The Injury: A calf strain often occurs in sports or physical activities that require a sudden change in high speed direction, such as American football or soccer. When the injury occurs, a portion of the calf muscle is pulled or torn causing pain and inflammation. The calf strain may be a grade I minor tear, a grade II partial tear, or a grade III complete rupture. On occasion a calf strain will also be accompanied with an Achilles tendon rupture.

Injury Symptoms: The common signs of a calf strain is pain that radiates from the lower back part of the leg. The pain may intensify when attempting to flex at the knee or when attempting to stand on the tip of the toes. The calf area may also be tender and swollen.

Additional Information

Home Treatments:

Most calf strains can be treated using the rest, ice, compression and elevation principle. The calf should be wrapped using an elastic bandage and rested in an elevated position higher than the level of the chest. Ice can be used in the first 48 hours after injury 20 minutes at a time on the painful and swollen areas to reduce swelling and inflammation. A non steroidal anti inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen may also be useful.

Professional Medical Treatments:

A persistent calf strain that does not positively react to home treatment may require soft tissue massaging or ultrasound therapy. Crutches or a heel padding may also be advised. If the strain is identified as an actual complete rupture, surgery will likely be needed.

Physical Therapy and Exercises:

Recovery of a calf strain will require range of motion stretches and exercises. This may initially involve moving the ankle through the total range of motion while in a supine position. Knee bends and side laying knee bends will also be used to recover range of motion. Later, standing calf stretch, standing soleus stretch, full body calf and Achilles stretch and calf raises will progressively complete the recovery.

Exercise Techniques to Prevent Injury:

The best way to prevent calf strains is to properly stretch the calf muscles before and after physical activity. This will require maintaining stretches for 10-15 seconds at a time, performing them a couple of times a day. Stretches may include the standing calf raise, lunges, wall calf stretch, reverse calf raise, and step ups. These will keep the calf, soleus and tibialis anterior muscles well stretched and strong.