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Pulled Calf Muscle - Treatment, Symptoms & Recovery


A pulled calf muscle, also known as a calf strain, is a common injury that occurs when the muscles at the back of the lower leg are overstretched or torn.

This type of injury can happen during physical activities that involve sudden movements, such as running, jumping, or changing direction rapidly.

Pulled calf muscles can be quite painful and may limit your ability to walk or engage in athletic activities.

Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for a pulled calf muscle is essential for proper management and recovery.

In this article, we will explore the various aspects of a pulled calf muscle, including its causes, symptoms, and recommended treatments.

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Pulled Calf Muscle Symptoms

A calf muscle strain may result in:

  • Having trouble tensing your calf muscles or standing on your toes.
  • When bending your ankle or pointing your toes, you may have muscle soreness.
  • You are having difficulty bending your knee.
  • In your calf, you may feel a snapping or popping feeling.
  • Pain at the back of your lower thigh that comes on suddenly.
  • Your calf muscle is swollen.
  • Your calf muscle is bruised.

The majority of persons who have a torn calf muscle report being unable to resume their normal activities shortly after the injury.

Pop In The Calf Muscle - What Happens & How To Treat It

When To See A Doctor

A strained calf muscle may reoccur or worsen over time if not treated.

  • Some possible difficulties are as follows:
  • scar tissue creation chronic pain or dysfunction in muscle compartment syndrome reinjury deep vein thrombosis (DVT) formation
  • As a result, a person should seek medical assistance as soon as possible after suffering an injury and begin resting the muscle.

Other reasons to seek medical care for a strained calf muscle include:

  • Suffering another serious injury
  • Having little success with at-home remedies such as rest, cold packs, or over-the-counter pain medicines

Treating A Pulled Calf Muscle

In most cases, rest is the best treatment for a pulled or strained calf muscle. Depending on the extent of the damage, a doctor may suggest further treatments and drugs. Mild sprain sufferers may get some relief from the following remedies:

Treatment with ice and heat includes applying ice compresses to the leg for 20 minutes, up to eight times a day, for the first two days. Doing so may lessen swelling and ease muscular soreness. Hot packs may aid with muscular stiffness and pain after this period has passed.

Compression socks and elastic bandages may reduce swelling and pain by applying pressure to an injured calf.

The wounded leg should be kept in a comfortable yet elevated position, such as on a pillow or a rolled-up blanket or towel. As a result, swelling should diminish if you do this.

Pain medications, such as ibuprofen, are available over-the-counter (OTC) and may be used to alleviate discomfort and inflammation.

A torn calf muscle might take weeks or months to recover, depending on the degree of the injury. If your calf muscle is significantly strained or ripped, your doctor may advise surgery.

Localized subcutaneous bleeding may result from a muscle injury if the injury also damages surrounding blood vessels.

When blood cells congregate in muscle, a hematoma or a blood clot may occur. Hematomas may be treated using aspiration, a less invasive treatment.

Pulled Calf Muscle Recovery Time

It might take up to three days for a torn calf muscle to begin feeling better. According to Oxford University Hospitals, complete recovery might take up to six weeks.

Swelling may make any pain or discomfort remain a little longer. Walking on sore calf muscles might also lengthen healing time.

If you need surgery for a serious calf muscle strain, you might be out of commission for many weeks or months.

Torn Calf Muscle Complications

Immediate treatment is critical for your total recovery. While resting your injured limb for a few days may be unpleasant, moving about too quickly might aggravate the muscle tension.

A recurrence of calf muscle strain is also possible within one to two weeks following the first injury. Around 30% of patients who have muscular injuries get further injuries.

Athletes who continue to play the same sports and persons who use the same muscles again and over have a higher risk. Allowing oneself enough recuperation time is essential for calf muscle therapy.

A herniated muscle may also occur as a consequence of a torn calf. When your calf muscle protrudes under your skin, it causes a noticeable bulge. While not often uncomfortable, this tumor should be addressed by a specialist to prevent future muscle damage.

Stretches For A Pulled Calf Muscle

Even if you need to rest your calf muscle for a while before you can go back to your regular routine, there are a few stretches that may help speed up the recovery process. You can aid the healing of injured muscles and maintain the stability and mobility of your ankles and knees by stretching.

To aid with your calf muscle healing, discuss the following home workouts with your doctor:

Chair Stretches

While seated comfortably, repeatedly bend and straighten the knee of the injured leg 10 times.

Wall Stretches

Turn your back to the wall and place your hands against it at shoulder height. Put your weight squarely on your heel and straighten your injured leg. Then, bring the second leg forward until it forms a right angle with the stepping leg.

You may do 4 sets of 30 seconds in this posture. Do it as frequently as you want throughout the day until you get your desired effect.

Floor Stretches

Maintain a straight leg while sitting on the floor. Put your heel down firmly and flex your foot. Hold this posture, pressing your toes toward you gently, for 5 seconds. Repeat this stretch up to 10 times.

Standing Stretches

Hold on to a solid chair's back and bounce about on the tips of your toes for 5 full seconds. Perform up to twice daily in four-minute sessions.

Preventing Muscle Strains

If you've once had a calf strain, you're considerably more likely to have another one in the future. A strained calf muscle or other muscular injury may be avoided if you do the following:

  • Do some thorough stretching and warming up for at least five minutes before you hit the gym.
  • Warming up with some calf stretches
  • After your workout, take five minutes to calm down and then stretch your muscles again.

Avoiding intense tasks before you're physically prepared for them is another way to minimize calf muscle strain. It's best to start off slow and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts.

When it is time to step up your exercises, a doctor, personal trainer, or physical therapist might provide suggestions.

What Are The Most Common Sports For Torn Calf Muscles?

Torn calf muscles can occur in various sports and activities that involve explosive movements or sudden changes in direction. Some of the most common sports associated with torn calf muscles include:

  • Running and sprinting - The calf muscles are heavily involved in the propulsion and push-off during running, making them susceptible to injury.
  • Basketball - The quick stops, starts, and jumps in basketball put significant strain on the calf muscles, increasing the risk of tears.
  • Soccer - The constant running, sprinting, and sudden changes in direction in soccer can lead to calf muscle tears.
  • Tennis - The explosive movements, lateral shuffles, and quick bursts of speed in tennis can strain the calf muscles, leading to tears.
  • Dancing - High-impact dance styles that involve jumping, leaping, and quick footwork can put stress on the calf muscles, making them prone to injury.

It's important to note that torn calf muscles can occur in any sport or activity that involves vigorous lower-body movements. Proper warm-up, conditioning, and adequate rest and recovery can help reduce the risk of calf muscle tears in sports.

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Torn Calf Muscles?

Torn calf muscles often occur due to sudden and forceful contractions or overstretching of the calf muscles. Some common causes include:

  • Sudden movements or acceleration - Abrupt and explosive movements, such as sprinting or jumping, can strain the calf muscles and lead to tears.
  • Inadequate warm-up - Insufficient warm-up before engaging in physical activities can leave the calf muscles unprepared for the stress and more prone to injury.
  • Overexertion or fatigue - Pushing the calf muscles beyond their limits, especially when they are already fatigued, can increase the risk of tears.
  • Lack of flexibility - Tight or inflexible calf muscles can be more susceptible to injury, as they are less able to absorb and distribute the forces properly.
  • Previous injuries - Previous calf muscle strains or tears can weaken the muscle fibers and make them more vulnerable to future injuries.

How Long Does Recovery Take From A Calf Muscle Tear?

The recovery time from a calf muscle tear can vary depending on the severity of the injury. In general, the healing process involves three stages: inflammation, repair, and remodeling.

The timeline for recovery can range from a few weeks to several months. Here are some estimates for different grades of calf muscle tears:

  • Grade 1 tear - A mild tear with minimal muscle fiber damage may take about 2 to 4 weeks for recovery.
  • Grade 2 tear - A moderate tear with significant muscle fiber damage may require 4 to 8 weeks for healing.
  • Grade 3 tear - A severe tear involving a complete rupture of the muscle may take 3 to 6 months or longer to heal fully.

It's crucial to follow a comprehensive rehabilitation program that includes rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE), physical therapy exercises, and a gradual return to activity.

The recovery time can also depend on individual factors such as age, overall health, and adherence to the rehabilitation plan. It's best to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate assessment and personalized guidance for your specific calf muscle tear.

People Also Ask

What Are The Common Causes Of A Pulled Calf Muscle?

A pulled calf muscle is often caused by sudden movements, overexertion, or inadequate warm-up before physical activities.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Pulled Calf Muscle?

The recovery time for a pulled calf muscle can vary depending on the severity of the injury, but it typically takes several weeks to a few months for complete healing.

When Should I Seek Medical Attention For A Pulled Calf Muscle?

If you experience severe pain, inability to bear weight, persistent swelling, or if the symptoms worsen or do not improve after a few days of self-care, it is advisable to seek medical attention.

Can You Prevent A Pulled Calf Muscle?

While it may not be possible to prevent all instances of a pulled calf muscle, taking measures such as warming up properly, gradually increasing exercise intensity, and maintaining overall muscle strength and flexibility can help reduce the risk.

Can Physical Therapy Help In The Recovery Of A Pulled Calf Muscle?

Yes, physical therapy can play a significant role in the recovery of a pulled calf muscle. It can help improve flexibility, strength, and mobility, as well as guide individuals through a structured rehabilitation program tailored to their specific needs.

Final Thoughts

A pulled calf muscle can be a painful and debilitating injury that affects the back of the lower leg. It is commonly caused by sudden movements or overexertion during physical activities.

Recognizing the symptoms of a pulled calf muscle, such as pain, swelling, and difficulty walking, is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) therapy, along with gentle stretching and strengthening exercises, are often recommended for healing and rehabilitation.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and to receive personalized treatment advice.

With proper care and management, most cases of pulled calf muscles can recover fully, allowing individuals to resume their regular activities and sports.

Remember to always listen to your body, pace yourself during physical activities, and warm up adequately before exercising to help prevent future injuries to the calf muscles.

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