A strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon. People commonly call such an injury a "pulled" muscle. A calf strain is an injury to the muscles and tendons in the back of your leg below your knee.
A strain of your calf muscles can occur during a physical activity where you push off forcefully from your toes. It may occur in running, jumping, or lunging.
A calf muscle strain may cause immediate pain in the back of your lower leg. You may hear or feel a pop or a snap.
You may get the feeling that someone has hit you in the back of the leg. It is hard to rise up on your toes. Your calf may be swollen and bruised.
Your healthcare provider will examine your lower leg. Your calf muscles will be tender.
To treat this condition:
While you are recovering from your injury, you will need to change your sport or activity to one that does not make your condition worse. For example, you may need to swim instead of run.
The length of recovery depends on many factors such as your age, health, and if you have had a previous calf injury. Recovery time also depends on the severity of the injury. A mild calf strain may recover within a few weeks, whereas a severe injury may take 6 weeks or longer to recover. You need to stop doing the activities that cause pain until the muscle has healed. If you continue doing activities that cause pain, your symptoms will return and it will take longer to recover.
Everyone recovers from an injury at a different rate. Return to your activities depends on how soon your calf recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury has occurred. In general, the longer you have symptoms before you start treatment, the longer it will take to get better. The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your normal activities as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury.
You may safely return to your activities when, starting from the top of the list and progressing to the end, each of the following is true:
Calf strains are best prevented by warming up properly and doing calf-stretching exercises before your activity. This is especially important if you are doing jumping or sprinting sports.