Pain that occurs in the calf muscle is often the result of a pulled or strained calf muscle. A calf strain may occur as a sudden “pop” with a lot of pain at the back of the calf. The symptoms will be pain, swelling or bruising in the calf muscle, with difficulty walking or standing on your toes.

Calf injuries usually occur during acceleration or changes in direction. Calf strains may be minor or more severe, the injury will be graded based on all strain grades:

Grade 1:

The muscle is stretched causing some small micro tears in the muscle fibres. Recovery takes approximately 2 to 4 weeks if you do all the right things.

Grade 2:

There is partial tearing of muscle fibres. Full recovery takes approximately 4 to 8 weeks with good rehabilitation.

Grade 3:

This is the most severe calf strain with a complete tearing or rupture of muscle fibres in the lower leg. Full recovery can take 3-4 months and, in some instances, surgery may be needed.

Treatment of a Calf muscle strain

Initially consists of the RICE protocol – rest, ice, compression and elevation. This is aimed at reducing the bleeding and secondary tissue damage within the calf muscle. The early rehabilitation stages are spent resting, with non-weight bearing exercises. As treatment progresses appropriate exercise & rehabilitation plan will be provided based on the severity of the injury.

Gentle resistance exercises using resistance bands and stretching are important as they help to align the scar tissue which forms during the healing process. Aligning the scar tissue along the normal lines of muscle fibre helps ensure that there is no scar tissue or weak point in the muscle.

As the muscle gets stronger sport specific exercises are provided to further strengthen the muscle and prepare it for returning to sport. At Range of Motion Physical Therapy we can manage the rehabilitation process to ensure a full recovery from a muscle strain.