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Calf Strain

For an Illustrated Exercise Guide and Exercise Video's for Calf Strain click here: 


Calf Strain - Why does this happen?
The calf is a combination of 2 muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus.  The calf muscles attach from the back of the knee to the heel and work together to flex the foot. 

A Calf Strain is a tear in the gastrocnemius muscle.  This often occurs due to an excess load on the muscle as a result of increased sporting activity.  Muscle imbalance, poor foot position, poor warm up and muscle tightness may also be contributing factors.

What are the symptoms?
  • Pain and tenderness in the calf.
  • Pain is worse when the calf is stretched during walking, running or other weight bearing activities.
  • Swelling and bruising in the calf muscle.
  • Pain is relieved after a period of rest.
Diagnosing a Frozen Shoulder

Your GP or Physiotherapist can usually diagnose a Calf Strain by simply by examining your leg and hearing where the pain is and how it started.


X-rays and other tests are not usually necessary.

What is the treatment?

A Calf Strain will usually recover with some simple changes to activity and exercise.  By trying to avoid or reduce the activity which causes the pain, you will allow the damaged tendon time to recover and heal. 


To help reduce the symptoms an 'ice pack' can be placed on the painful area for 15 - 20 minutes twice a day.  Do not place the 'ice pack' directly on the skin.  Wrap the 'ice pack' in a damp towel before placing on the painful area to ensure you do not burn the skin.


 When possible elevate the leg during the first 48 hours.


During the initial painful stages it is important to manage the pain.  A shoe with a slight heel or a flat shoe with an inserted heel wedge can be worn to help reduce strain on the muscle as it recovers.

Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications  -  These may be prescribed by your GP if the pain is costant.  This is a temporary measure to break the pain cycle, but can continue as required.
Exercise  -  Exercise is important to help regain full ankle movement in the acute stage. Once the pain has settled it is important to strengthen the surrounding muscles and work on your balance to help prevent reoccurrence.  Click here for a list of exercises suitable for a Calf Strain 

Biomechanical Analysis  -   If there are significant mechanical problems insoles or specific trainers may improve your foot position and help avoid further injuries.  A biomechanical assessment by a Podiatrist or Physiotherapist will determine whether insoles or specific trainers would be of benefit.

Physiotherapy  -  If exercise alone does not improve symptoms then physiotherapy treatment may be required.  A physiotherapist can use specific treatments including, ultrasound, deep friction, massage, interferential, acupuncture or taping to help relieve pain and aid recovery. Click here for more information about Physiotherapy.
Injections  -  In some cases your GP or Consultant may recommend an injection.  These can be used to reduce inflammation and pain when the symptoms are severe and constant.  This is not a 'cure' and it is important to follow the exercises and modify activities.  A 'Cortisone Injection' can help reduce inflammation in the tendon, whilst a 'PRP Injection' (Platelet Rich Plasma) can help to stimulate healing.
Surgery  -  This is not common for A Calf Strain.  In some cases when symptoms are persistent surgery may be considered.    
Remember an important part of treatment for a Calf Strain are your home exercises and modifying activities.