A calf strain is any form of excessive stretching or tearing of one or both of the muscles that make up the calf (namely the Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles). This is usually caused by activities that involve sudden pushing off movements or those that might overstretch the calves such as jumping or abrupt changes in direction.
General symptoms include pain in the affected area that may be accompanied by swelling, bruising and tenderness. Depending on its severity, the injured person may also experience pain and discomfort in walking. In severe cases, the injured person may even be unable to walk because of the pain. Like other muscle strains, this injury is normally graded according to severity, from Grade 1 (minor strain with little to no tear) to Grade 3 (major strain with complete or almost complete tear).
The RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is usually the first line of treatment for calf strains, especially during the first few days. The injured person may also benefit from the use of compression bandages or other calf support materials to minimise swelling. Anti-inflammatories and pain medication may also be prescribed by a doctor as needed. As part of recovery, physical therapy is also usually recommended to help strengthen the area and prevent recurrence of the injury.