Very mild calf strain (Read 114 times)


    Hi, I strained a calf muscle on Tuesday morning. It was painful to put weight on it right after it happened but by the time I walked home it was no longer sore. I stupidly put heat on it when I got home, for about 5 minutes. It swelled up a lot. I followed RICE for the first 48 hours after that, after I educated myself! I haven't done any exercise aside from upper body work since. I can walk around without pain or soreness. I feel a slight twinge at times, like a tight feeling. I can do stretches without pain or soreness. I read online that I should be able to do 3 x 20 single leg calf raises before reintroducing running. I tried a few this morning and experienced only mild soreness. I have my first 10k in 9 days. I left it late to sign up so I am losing valuable training time. I'm 34 and female. Any opinions or advice welcome. I really want to do the 10k but I guess I'll have to accept it if I can't! TIA Smile

      Well, my advice would be don't sweat it either way.  This is your first 10K, so no matter what you do it'll be a PR!  The 2nd thing to realize is with 9 days to go whatever you do doesn't really make that much of a difference.  Having said that, active recovery is usually the quickest way to recover.  That's why after surgery these days they want you to move fairly soon afterwards.  The basic idea is to increase blood flow to the injured area while keeping down inflammation.  You need to exercise it do increase blood flow, but you don't want to injure it.  Basic rule is do as much as you can w/o making it worse.  For me, that means a progression from walking, walking fast, walking fast farther, slow jogging, running, running faster.  No NSAIDs as they tend to slow down recovery, so to keep the inflammation down use ice.  Other helpful things, KT tape, compression sleeves and a foam roller.   Also, take adequate time to warm up whatever you do.  Good luck!



        Try a light run tonight or in the morning and see how it feels.  If it lets you run on it, then do easy runs between now and the race.  If you can do these, I'd say go for it.  In any case I don't think you are going to do any lasting harm since it sounds at worst like a muscle strain, and you can always heal up after your race.  But keep in mind that I'm one of those idiots who almost never backs out of a race even when he should.

        - Joe

        We are fragile creatures on collision with our judgment day.

          Unless you were doing them when you were healthy, I'm not a big fan of starting calf raises or even intense stretching on a strained calf.  I've had them on and off, and the best thing is always time off.


          I agree w rmcj, being only 9 days out youre not losing training per se...your body probably wouldnt respond (recover and strengthen) in time for the race.  better to be healthy...i'd do what joescott says above, but probably lean towards a couple extra days off first.


          good luck with the race!


            I suffered a grade II calf strain last fall and was off 6 weeks.   If I had taken some time off earlier when I first experienced symptoms I would have only needed to take 2 weeks off.

            Time off and strengthening exercises are your only real option.   FWIW I now run in CEP compression calf sleeves and these help.


              Thanks for all the advice! I still haven't ran, I've only been going to the gym until a while ago when I did a 15 min brisk walk without pain or soreness. The muscle is still tight so I've been using the foam roller in the gym and I've been doing plenty of stretching. I went and got a calf sleeve. I'm going to try running tomorrow evening and I'm feeling confident that I'll get on ok. I'm excited to do my first 10k on Sunday, even if I have to walk some of it Smile I'm feeling very proud of my patience too, it's been very frustrating at times!

                My advice would be to pretty much just rest it between now and the race.   I've dealt with calf strains/pulls 3 times in the past 9 years and my experience is that they can really be annoying in that they are easy to aggrivate/reinjure.  They are really the only running injury I've ever had to deal with of any kind other than some occasional shin splints.  One two occassions I pretty much had to shut things down for 4-6 weeks before I could resume running.   I did find that I could pretty much always ride a bike moderately (no hills) without any pain to the calf.   You really can't gain anything fitness wise in 1 week which is why I would just rest it so you have the best chance of being able to run on Sunday.


                On Friday I would maybe try two really EASY/SLOW miles just to see how it feels.  If it feels good, I would give it a try on Sunday.  Plenty of ice between now and then as well.


                Good luck!



                  Certified Running Coach
                  Crocked since 2013



                    I'd second this! I had calf injuries for over 10 years. I went through way too many PT sessions and no resolution. What finally healed them was a chiropractor that did treatments consisting of ART, eStim and Ultrasound.   Moreover, you need to learn how to massage your calf muscles yourself to prevent future injuries -- and to save yourself some time and money with Chiro/PT visits.  The calf is perhaps one of the easiest parts of your leg to treat yourself.


                      I ran 2 miles on the treadmill this morning. There was a slight twinge at the start and I had one or twinges of soreness within a few hours after. I def wouldn't consider it pain, just very mild soreness. My leg feels a little weak, going to keep up the stretching and foam roller. I will ice it after work. I will rest it until Friday and try 3 miles on the road. It's hard not to worry that it will happen again! Thanks for all the advice Smile

                        I ran 2 miles on the treadmill this morning. There was a slight twinge at the start and I had one or twinges of soreness within a few hours after. I def wouldn't consider it pain, just very mild soreness. My leg feels a little weak, going to keep up the stretching and foam roller. I will ice it after work. I will rest it until Friday and try 3 miles on the road. It's hard not to worry that it will happen again! Thanks for all the advice Smile


                        I've found that frequent massaging really helps.   I'm going to paste an article that I found and saved off years ago that has been a real blessing to my aching calves. I'd post the  link, but the web site has been dead for years. When I feel pain, I do this frequently throughout the day:


                        Oh, My aching calves

                        My calve injuries must have been God's way of showing me that somewhere along the way, I messed up. These were my most secretive feelings for many years. I shared them with no one, for no one could understand the emotional distress associated with chronic calf injuries.

                        After 15 years as a sportsmedicine specialist in which I'd treated hundreds of runners with various running. I finally was introduced to a solution to my calf problems. If tightness, soreness, slow recovery, or muscle pulls is also your albatross in life, you may want to read this.

                        The calf is one of the most used muscle groups in the runner. Along with the hamstring, calf problems afflict almost all runners at one time or another. The role the calf plays in the running gait makes it highly vulnerable to tightness, stiffness, tendinitis, and chronic pulls. To the runner who suffers from this syndrome, running can become a not-so-favorite pastime laced long periods of injury and frustration.

                        Calf problems are usually due to micro-traumas that occur with every run. A typical muscle that is exercised multiple times a week is injured on the microscopic level with every workout. These micro-injuries require to heal. As the muscle is used and the microtraumas occur, an inherit tightening or contracture takes place.

                        This is the body's attempt to protect the muscle to allow the necessary time for recovery. The downside of this is built in protective mechanisms that there is a reduced blood flow to the muscle, this reduced blood flow furthers the contracture or tightening.


                        This cycle usually leads to injury or chronic tightness and stiffness that limit a runner with regard to mileage and hard workouts. AS soon as the muscle tightness is mildly improved, most runners feel the need to get back out on the road or track as quickly as possible. This is taking a muscle that is just starting to recover and asking it to perform when it is not capable of doing so and the cycle continues.

                        The tightening that occurs with constant running has to be addressed on a daily basis in an effort to resolve this problem. While most sportsmendicine specialist and coaches recommend a detailed stretching program, stretching alone will not solve this condition.


                        The primary problem is that the internal pressure of the muscle is so great (due to the tightening/protective mechanism of the body) that new blood, which is vital for reparation and recovery, cannot enter the muscle. External pressure, greater than the protective internal muscular pressure, has to be applied to the calf muscles in an effort to relax the muscle and encourage a copious, nutrient-rich blood flow necessary for proper food and oxygen to the muscle.


                        There are three options with regard to employing the necessary treatment to the calves to combat tightness, stiffness, and injuries. The first is to use your thumbs in applying an upward stroke to the calves, starting just above the Achilles up to the back of the knee. The key is to get into calves with enough pressure to help relax the muscle and encourage blood flow into the muscle. The runner should apply 20-30 strokes on both calves.


                        The second option is to work with a fellow runner and apply the necessary treatment to each other. This is certainly easier, however, another partner is not always available. The final option is to use a tool that allows runners to treat themselves, such as The Stick®. This provides the necessary treatment, is extremely easy to employ, and can be done in 30-45 seconds.


                        In order to succeed with this approach, muscles must be treated multiple times per day. The treatment cannot become time consuming, since none of us have the time for a lengthy treatment. Again, the treatment could be done in as little as 30-45 seconds.


                        The most important time for application is just prior to going out for a run, with the second most important being after a run. Ideally, five to six treatments per day will begin to provide the necessary influx of new blood to the damaged, tightened muscle. This will expedite the repair and relaxation process that will allow the calf muscle to undergo the stresses of running without the residual buildup of waste products, toxins, and tightening that is all part of the normal cycle of muscular use and repair.


                        It is critical to have the muscle in a totally relaxed state while treating it. When sitting down, life the thigh off the floor with the foot free hanging. Let the toe point downward. This will allow the calf muscle to be relaxed. This position is also possible when laying down. When standing put the foot on a stool or chair and make sure the knee is behind the heel instead of ahead of the toe. This will allow for maximum relaxation when applying pressure.


                        Finally, treatment should not only be done when pain, tightness, or injury is present. This treatment should become a habit for all runners, since calf problems are truly in epidemic proportions. The calf undergoes excessive stress and recovery support with this treatment will provide the insurance you need to stay on the road instead of injured list.


                          Thank you for that! I had a video on diy calf massage saved, just tried it.


                            I ran the 10K without reinjury. I did it in 61:56 so heaps of room for improvement! I had to walk 1/4 of the last mile. The advice I got on this thread helped. I think my patience and how diligently I looked after the leg between the injury and the race were the reason I got through it. I got a massage at the expo when I was collecting my race pack, the physio put kinesio tape on my calf which I left on for the race I would think that was a factor in my successfully running the race too. I'm not too proud of my time but I'm proud that I ran most of it Smile Thanks again for the advice!