A calf strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon in the back of your leg below your knee. This area of your leg is called the calf. Tendons are strong bands of tissue that attach muscle to bone.
This type of injury is often called a pulled muscle.
You can strain your calf muscle when you do an activity that involves pushing off forcefully from your toes. For example, it may happen when you are running, jumping, or lunging.
Symptoms may include:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, activities, and medical history and examine your leg.
You will need to change or stop doing the activities that cause pain until your muscle or tendon has healed. For example, you may need to swim instead of run. You may need to use crutches if it’s too painful to walk.
Your healthcare provider may recommend stretching and strengthening exercises. Your provider may refer you to physical therapy.
Your healthcare provider or physical therapist may tape the injured muscle while it heals to help you return to athletic activities. Taping helps reduce movement that may cause more muscle damage. They may recommend wearing an elastic or neoprene sleeve around your calf.
A mild strain may heal within a few weeks. A more severe strain may take 6 weeks or longer to heal.
To help relieve swelling and pain:
Use an elastic bandage when you return to your activities as directed by your provider.
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions, including any exercises recommended by your provider. Ask your provider:
Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
Warm-up exercises and stretching before activities can help prevent injuries. This is especially important if you are doing jumping or sprinting sports.