The pain can start in the area of the calf and then radiate to the knee or ankle, which is also usually associated with range of motion of the ankle.
Causes and Treatment for Calf Strain
Causes of calf strain include poor warm up and cool down routines, lots of hill climbing or sudden increase in mileage for runners, “pronation” (where a runner’s foot turns over too much as he or she runs) and dehydration.
In many cases, runners continue running even after experiencing the first signs of a calf strain, and adjust their stride to decrease heel strike and increase the forefoot foot slap, which actually makes the calf strain worse. Calcium, trace minerals and magnesium deficiencies can also lead to calf strain.
A partial or complete rupture of the calf muscle can take between four and 12 weeks to completely heal. Inflammation of the muscle may just require 7 to 10 days of rest before training can start again.
To make sure your body has sufficient time to heal be sure to:
• Apply the R.I.C.E. technique – rest, ice, compression, elevation for the initial 24-72 hours
• Apply ice as soon as possible to minimize any internal bleeding
• Apply a compression (tensor) bandage or sleeve
• Make an appointment with a sports injury professional to initiate a proper and thorough treatment plan, which may include anti-inflammatories, ultrasound, sports massage, and rehabilitation
• Put heel pads in both shoes to take strain off the calf muscles
Once an athlete is pain-free, sports-related activities can resume, but strengthening and stretching of the calf muscle should continue for several months following the injury to ensure that the tear or rupture doesn’t recur.
Calf Strain. Sports Injury Clinic. Web. Dec 26, 2011.
Calf Strain and Running. Runners Rescue. Web. Dec 26, 2011. http://www.runnersrescue.com/Running_Calf_Pain_Strain_Injury.htm
Medial Gastrocnemius Strain. WebMD. Web. Dec 26, 2011. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/91687-overview
Reviewed December 27, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith