You have calf strain if any of your calf muscles is stretched beyond its limit or torn. Calf strains are often associated with activities that require sudden or forceful contraction of the calf, such as in sprinting or running and jumping. Not stretching before performing strenuous activities may also increase the likelihood of calf strains in occurring.
Calf Strain Home Treatments
Minor calf strains can be effectively treated with proper use of RICE therapy. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation.
Stop your activity and get some rest if possible. Avoid movements that add stress to your injured calf muscle. Resting for long periods, however, is not advisable as this may lead to more complications such as stiffness of your calf and delayed healing time.
Applying ice on your injured calf can help reduce your pain and swelling. Wrap an ice pack with towel and apply over your injury for 20 minutes at a time, 3 to 4 times a day. You may want to continue icing during the first two days following your injury or until swelling has subsided and pain decreased.
Do not apply heat (hot pack) while swelling is still present, usually 2 to 3 days after injury, as this may make your symptoms worse.
Wrap a compression or elastic bandage around your injured leg. This can help minimize swelling in your injured calf.
Caution should be observed when applying bandaging as wrapping it too tight can limit blood flow to your other lower leg and foot structures. If you are unsure of how to properly apply an elastic bandage, ask your physical therapist or trained professional to do it for you. In addition, they can teach you how to properly apply bandaging for your calf strain.
Elevate your injured limb above the level of your heart by adding more pillows as you lie in bed. By doing so, you can help reduce your swelling.
You can also take an over the counter pain medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help relieve your pain and inflammation.
You can start exercising when your pain has decreased and swelling has subsided. Perform gentle ankle movements such as turning your foot inward, then outward and pointing your foot and moving it toward your leg. Stretching exercises can also help stretch your tight calf muscles. A physical therapist can teach you proper exercises to stretch and strengthen your calf muscles.
When to consult your doctor
Consult your doctor if you
• Have severe or persistent pain
• Experience numbness in your foot
• Are not sure of the severity of your injury.
Home Treatment for Calf Strain (January 2011). Physical Therapy (PT) Notes
Sprains and Strains (2010). Better Health Channel
Sprains and Strains (Aril 2009). National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases NIAMS