Calf strain, or calf muscle strain, is a tear, partial tear or stretch of the calf muscle(s) The damage can be anywhere within the muscle bulk or tendon.
What causes calf injury?
Muscles that are cold or tight that haven't been warmed up, or extreme sprinting, or landing badly after jumping or any strenuous exercise on the calf.
Symptoms of calf injuries
Swelling and bruising may appear and the damaged area will feel sore to the touch. Also it may be painful to point your foot towards the ground.
Recovery time and treatment of the calf
If your injury is not too bad, a calf muscle strain should start to improve within a few days and with gentle stretching you should be able to resume your sport within a few weeks. If however your injury is more severe, immediately after injury ice needs to be applied. Use a thin towel between skin and ice to avoid ice burn. Continue with the ice at regular intervals during the first 24 hours.Do not put any weight on your leg and as soon as possible elevate your leg to reduce swelling. It will also be more comfortable to rest your calf on a pillow or cushion. You should check with you doctor to see exactly what the damage is and then as soon as possible after pain has subsided, you should start gentle exercises.
A list of exercises to help you restrengthen your calf and recover from injury can be found on our best lower leg exercises page.
Do not return to your sport too early and when you do don't play a full on game, ease back into it gradually. Always warm up as after injury, risk of further injury is higher. Warming up brings blood and oxygen to the working muscles and will also enhance performance. Make warm ups part of your sport as it is a small price to pay to save further injury.