A calf strain, commonly called a ‘pulled’ muscle, is caused by overstretching or tearing of either of the 2 calf muscles – the soleus and the gastrocnemius.
The first symptom is usually sudden pain in the back of the lower leg. You may even hear a pop or snap when it happens. Afterwards, your calf may be swollen and it will be difficult to rise up on your toes. Your calf is often painful and tender and may feel weak and stiff. It may look bruised.
Calf strain occurs during activities that involve pushing off on the toes, such as running or jumping. It commonly happens in sports such as tennis, squash or football.
Rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medicines, compression and elevation are all part of the initial treatment. Stretching and rehabilitation exercises should be done before you return to your sport or activity.
Last Reviewed: 12 August 2009