Calf Muscle Strain Symptoms – When Going Gets Tough

Calf Muscle Strain Symptoms - When Going Gets Tough

You probably call it a pulled muscle or the tennis leg but when the calf muscle (or tendons) is overstretched or worse… gets torn, then what you will have right there is a very… trust me, very painful calf strain situation.

So what are the most common calf muscle strain symptoms?

And how do you exactly get a calf strain?

The calf area (behind your leg below the knee…) is where the all important soleus and gastrocnemius muscles are located.

It is these muscles that enable us to do simple everyday activities like playing most active sports, regular walking, and finding balance especially when landing from a jump plus supporting many other small functions like stretching on your toes to reach for stuff placed on a high shelf.

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How Do You Get a Calf Strain?

Calf strains are very common in the sports field. Truth be told, you can get a calf strain injury anywhere but mostly it will be during a physical movement.

You can get injured while running, skiing, lunging, going up the stairs, playing tennis, jumping, or even when exercising.

This can happen in various ways depending on your body movement at that particular time. Calf strains can either be categorized as grade 1, 2, or 3.

Grade One:

This is considered the mildest case of a calf strain. Although you’re still able to continue with near perfect leg movement (like walking or jogging without too much discomfort…), don’t be fooled, it will take you up to 4 weeks or slightly more to recover completely depending on how fast your body heals.

Mostly this is just a case of a few strained muscle fibers.

Grade Two:

This is moderate injury and it occurs when muscle fibers get torn but don’t rupture fully. An injury of this grade would take you anywhere from 4 to 9 weeks to recover.

A grade 2 calf strain may include some significant swelling and the aching can go on for more than a week. There’s also too much discomfort when walking or moving around.

Grade Three:

This is the worst case and a complete recovery can take up to 12 weeks! In this case, the muscle is totally torn (ruptured).

Cross-section of lower right leg, through the calf

How Do You Know You Have a Calf Strain? What Are The Symptoms?

Upon injury, the calf muscle will announce its discomfort in the following ways:-

* Immediate sharp pain that can make even a grown up cry like a baby depending on the severity

* Bruising may appear

* The area becomes tender and swollen

* An audible snap or pop that is also felt

* Difficulty in standing on your toes (ballet dancer style)

* Feeling of being kicked or struck hard at the back of your leg (around the calf area)

* Difficulty in standing from a sitting position or even walking

How to Remedy a Calf Strain

What you need first and foremost is rest and lots of ice! Ensure you minimize your movement and you apply ice on the injured calf muscle at least 3 times a day for periods of about 20 to 30 minutes per session.

Application of ice can be more frequent depending on the severity of the calf injury and how much swelling or pain is involved.

Once you get through the initial phase, you can now try a few small exercises to help you heal faster and get back to normal activities (especially if you’re an athlete).

You can start with non-stressful toe raises both a standing and sitting position (whichever way you feel comfortable or is appropriate to your particular case).

The idea is to stretch the injured muscle and help it heal without causing more injury.

If walking is a problem or you want to go out for a walk or slight jog, then a compression sleeve or bandage over the injured calf muscle is a good idea.

This helps in two ways;

  1. keeping the muscle in position and
  2. reducing tension on the injured muscle(s).

You can also invest in some heel pads if you want to further reduce the tension on your injured calf.

Don’t worry about a workout plan…there are several exercising plans available online for free.

Just look for something that suits your particular case and talk to your physician before starting on any exercises to confirm that you’re not making things worse!

Now you know how to identify and respond to calf muscle strain symptoms…wasn’t that a fun and learning experience? 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Calf Muscle Strain Symptoms – When Going Gets Tough

  1. Thanks for a very information article on calf muscle strain. I stumbled across your post and I am interested in how I can avoid calf muscle strain in the first place. I am about to start exercising again after not doing any exercise for a very long time and I am worried about injuring myself or overdoing it.

    Any tips you can share with me? I am going to start off with jogging and some yoga….

    1. Stretching – always try and warm up with stretching before Jogging Lynne, especially if you are not a regular runner.

  2. Hi Chris,

    I don’t exercise much but it’s still interesting to learn about calf muscle strain. The symptoms that you described sounds really unpleasant.

    Does our body heal a calf muscle strain on its own and is any medication required other than the ice application?

    How long does it take for a calf muscle strain to heal?

    1. Usually about about 4 to 6 weeks Yvonne. You’ll find that after about a month the limp will subside gently.

  3. Very informative article! I strained my ankle and was amazed by how much it influenced my every day. I have played sports for many years but not gotten injured too many times. I guess I’ve been pretty lucky. It was really scary to get injured and find that I cannot even run without pain. Thanks for your suggestions, I am sure they will be helpful to those with calf injuries!

  4. Great article here, I’m an athlete who enjoys working out , however. I do not run very often whenever I run I end up straining my right calf. I’ve tried to warm up and stretch before and stretch after running but nothing helps me. So I had to stop running, do you have any tips for me on what I can do to minimize the calf strain I get whenever I run?

    1. This sounds like it could be down to the support you are giving your lower leg or feet – I used to injure myself constantly due to wearing the wrong trainers/runners for the exercise I was doing. How old is your footwear that you use?

  5. A couple years ago I ruptured my Achilles and had surgery to reattach it. Ever since then my calf muscle hurts at least twice a week to the point where I need to take Advil. I’m an avid soccer player and I workout 5 days a week.
    Basically long story short, my calf always feels strained and tight. Would some of these techniques help with my stiffness and soreness?

    1. There certainly will Nick!

      Although I should point out that a rupture of an Achilles is a rather painful and serious injury (as you already obviously know!). When an injury is this serious you should run any ideas you have through your GP or doctor first.

      I own this site but I AM NOT a medical professional – you need to make sure you are not making the condition any worse first!

      Hope this helps mate – always use with caution! 🙂

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