Calf strains- Features, treatment and more-


Injuries to calf area impact various populations. Calf strain injuries occur with high-speed running or fatiguing conditions of performance.


The “calf” refers to the posterior compartment muscles of your lower leg.

It is composed of three muscles:

  1. Gastrocnemius- promotes plantarflexion of the ankle joint. It also promotes flexion at the knee joint.
  2. Soleus- located beneath the gastrocnemius. It causes plantar flexion of the ankle.
  3. Plantaris- acts with gastrocnemius. It works as both a flexor of the knee and a plantarflexor of the ankle

These muscles altogether form the achilis tendon.

Causes of injuries and strains-

  • high internal forces
  • Various sports such as rugby, football, tennis
  • Athletics

Clinical features-

  • A sudden pain
  • audible or palpable “pop”
  • swelling
  • tearing sensation at the back of the lower leg
  • bruising
  • tenderness


  • Observation of the foot and ankle
  • Range of motion
  • Palpation
  • Resisted strength testing


Grade I: A milder form of strain-

  • pain with activity.
  • no loss of strength and range-of-motion
  • recovery- 1 t0 3 weeks

Grade II: A  moderate level of injury

  • loss of strength and range of motion. 
  •  marked pain, swelling
  • recovery within 3-6 weeks

Grade III: complete rupture of the muscle

  •  Pain, swelling, tenderness
  • Recovery takes months


Medical management includes either conservative management or surgical. Surgery is usually reserved for patients who have a complete tear. A complete rupture of muscle is treated by surgical interventions

Conservative management includes physical therapy and pharmacology.

Physical therapy interventions aims for an increase in range of motion, improved lower limb strength and endurance and improved quality of life. It helps in gaining the functional outcomes. Exercises are programmed to regain the muscle use and reduce pain. Modalities are used for pain reduction along with rehab program.

It is essential to rule out other conditions such as DVT, etc which may also cause calf pain. A proper clinical history and examination helps to make the correct diagnosis. 

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