Torn calf muscle

Overview | Symptoms | Severity | Treatment | Prevention

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A calf strain, or a pulled calf muscle, occurs when there is a partial tear in one or more of the small fibers that make up your calf muscle. The calf muscles are a group of two muscles, gastrocnemius or soleus, located in the back of your lower leg that stretch from your knee to your Achilles tendon – a muscle tear in either of these muscles is considered a pulled calf muscle.

Your calf muscles are responsible for elevating your heels (or standing on your toes.) They are vital in helping you in every aspect of getting around, including walking, running, and even just standing still. A pulled calf muscle is tough to ignore, and has the potential to put you out of action for awhile.

Most commonly, muscle strains and tears of all types occur because of what is called an eccentric contraction. Imagine tensing your calf while at the same time it is being forced in the opposite direction by some outside force or resistance. When the outside force battles against the inside force, tears in the fibers of your muscles can result causing a torn calf muscle.

Mild to severe calf muscle strains are extremely common in all sports that involve quick acceleration, jumping, or sudden changes in direction, such as:

  • football
  • basketball
  • baseball
  • running
  • track and field events
  • rugby
  • cycling
  • tennis
  • field hockey
  • soccer

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For more information on the causes and symptoms of a pulled calf muscle, visit the Pulled Calf Muscle Symptoms page.

The calf is comprised of two muscles gastrocnemius which originates from above the knee and soleus which is located below the knee both of these muscles are attached to heel bone via the Achilles tendon. When there is too much force or excessive tension caused by highly repetitive activities causing the muscles to suddenly contract tearing the muscles.

A torn calf is graded this allows professionals to gage the severity of the injury.  These grades are as follows:

  • Grade 1 tear: Is a small injury meaning that only a few muscle fibers have been torn and will not hinder normal function.
  • Grade 2 tear: Is a moderate
  • injury meaning that there is significant damage to the muscle fiber this may lead to limited movement.
  • Grade 3 tear: Is a major injury meaning there has been severe damage to the muscle fibers this will cause major loss of function.

These injuries are likely to happen during sports such as tennis, badminton and football.  When the injury occurs the patient will feel a sudden pain or a pulling sensation in the calf muscle.  In severe cases the patient will severe pain and may be unable to carry out any physical activities.

Torn Calf treatment is relatively simple:

  • Rest, rest is always important to allow the injury to heal.
  • Stretching may help the healing process however patients are advised not to stretch to much as it can have an opposite affect slowing down the healing process.
  • Ice, Ice is always used to reduce inflammation this should be applied in the first forty-eight hours.
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • medication is a simple torn calf treatment it can be used to help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Physical therapy to allow the leg to regain its normal function through gentle exercise.

Many prevention methods can put in place to prevent a torn calf for example some professionals suggest you should not run on uneven surfaces, make sure warm ups are carried on correctly and changing shoes when necessary.

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