Calf Strain

Calf strains are a common sporting injury and we regularly treat patients with this issue at Harris & Ross. Find our more about calf strains and our treatment plan below-

The calf is a group of four muscles that run down the back of the lower leg. Three of these muscles attach to the heel bone via the Achilles tendon. Their function is to point the foot and is important for propulsion in walking and running.  A calf strain occurs when the muscle is forcibly loaded or stretched beyond its capacity. Most commonly it is the Gastrocnemius muscle that tears.


Causes of Injury

It is an injury seen across most sports including football, hockey and netball. The most common cause of calf strains are a sudden burst of acceleration. Other factors that increase the likelihood of calf injury include:

  • Biomechanics – notably increased pronation or supination
  • Poor Jumping and Landing technique
  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Change in footwear
  • Muscle Tightness/Reduced flexibility
  • Decreased strength endurance or muscle power
  • Previous calf injury
  • Inadequately rehabilitated calf injury


Signs and Symptoms

With calf strains the symptoms will vary depending on the severity of the tear. Common symptoms include:

  • Sudden onset of sharp pain
  • A tearing or popping sensation at the time of injury
  • Bruising and swelling
  • Tender to touch
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain and limping when walking
  • May be unable to weightbear with severe tears


As with all muscle strains the severity of strain is classified as Grade 1 for a mild tear, through to Grade 3 for a complete tear of the muscle.



Most calf strains will require rehabilitation and treatment. Once past the first 48 hours of RICE, the big focus is to progressively recondition the muscle so that it heals well and is able to tolerate being loaded and stretched.


Treatment includes:

  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) immediately following injury
  • Soft tissue therapy
  • Muscle activation
  • Muscle Strengthening
  • Neural mobilization
  • Spinal mobilization
  • Plyometric and Agility Exercises
  • Return to running /sport program


To make an appointment for an initial physio assessment at our Wilmslow, Manchester, Altrincham or Wigan clinics, and discuss a treatment plan for your calf strain call Harris & Ross on 0161 832 9000 or click the book now icon below