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Calf strain: Causes, Symptoms, & Available Treatments

Calf strain: Causes, Symptoms, & Available Treatments

The calf muscles are located on the back of the lower leg and are responsible for extending the ankle and toes.

 A calf strain is a type of muscle injury that occurs when the calf muscles are overstretched or torn. This injury can be caused by a variety of factors, including overexertion, improper stretching, sudden changes in direction, and weak calf muscles.

Are you experiencing a calf strain? 

In this article, we’ll talk about the causes of a calf strain, symptoms, available treatments, and exercises you can do to help with recovery. We’ll also be talking about a  kinesiology taping protocol that you can use to help give support for this type of calf injury.

Table of Contents

  • What are the causes of calf strain? 
  • What are the different grades of a calf strain? 
  • What are the symptoms of calf strain? 
  • How can a calf strain be diagnosed? 
  • What is the difference between a calf strain and a tear?
  • How do you treat a calf strain? 
  • How can kinesiology tape help with calf strain?
  • Tape Geeks: The best skin-friendly kinesiology tape for calf strain 
  • How do you prevent calf strain?
  • What are the best exercises for calf strain recovery?
  • Conclusion

What are the causes of calf strain? 

causes of calf strain

Some of the most common causes of calf strain include: 

  • A sport that involves a lot of running, jumping, and quick direction changes 
  • Overuse 
  • Weak calf muscles

Some of the sports that make you prone to caf strain include football, tennis, baseball, rugby, and running. 

What are the different grades of a calf strain? 

different grades of a calf strain

Depending on the severity, calf strains can be graded on the following: 

  • Grade I calf strain. A grade I calf strain occurs when muscle fibers are partially stretched or a few are torn. When this happens, you can still walk normally and your leg’s range of motion is not limited.  You may be required to take a break for 10-12 days before playing sports activities again. 
  • Grade II calf strain. A grade II calf strain occurs when some of the muscle fibers are moderately stretched or torn. You may feel the loss of strength in your leg and the area tender with pain. You may experience some bruising. You may also limp when walking. Your healthcare provider may require you to take a break for 16-21 days before playing sports again.
  • Grade III calf strain. A grade III calf strain occurs when there is a severe tear in the muscle fibers and a complete muscle tear. A couple of hours from getting the injury, you’ll experience bruising and swelling. Putting some weight on the leg will feel very painful. 

What are the symptoms of calf strain? 

Here are the common symptoms of a calf strain: 

  • Sudden, sharp pain in the area 
  • Swelling 
  • Bruising 
  • Difficulty in walking 
  • Being unable to stand on the ball of your foot

How can a calf strain be diagnosed? 

Here are the ways that your health care provider can diagnose a calf strain: 

  • Ultrasound. An ultrasound helps in checking tears and the buildup of fluid in the area. 
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). An MRI helps check the presence of tears, clots, and internal bleeding.

What is the difference between a calf strain and a tear?

When you have a calf strain, you may feel a sudden pain at the back of your lower leg. You may also feel a snap or a pop when the injury happens. When a severe calf tear happens, on the other hand, you may feel like you have been shot at the back of your leg. 

How do you treat a calf strain? 

treat a calf strain

Here are the available treatments for calf strain: 

  • Rest. Your healthcare provider may ask you to rest for a least a day or more. You may return to any of your daily physical activity when the pain and swelling go away. 
  • Applying ice. Applying ice to the area will help reduce swelling and inflammation. Apply ice no longer than 20 minutes since it may damage your skin.
  • Heating pad. After 2 to 3 days of applying ice, you can alternate putting heating pads on the area. You shouldn’t leave the heating pad on your skin for too long as it may damage it.
  • Bandages and/ or wraps. Putting a bandage or wrapping the calf may help with swelling and aid mobility. 
  • Kinesiology taping. Applying kinesiology tape to a calf strain will help give support to the area without limiting your range of motion. 
  • Over-the-counter pain medication. Over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help with pain and swelling. 
  • Propping the leg above heart level. Putting the leg in an elevated position will help in reducing the swelling. 


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How can kinesiology tape help with calf strain?

Before your application, here are some  tips on how to prepare beforehand. Learn more about applying  different kinesiology tape tensions and  kinesiology tape cuts

Here are the steps in applying kinesiology tape for a calf strain to help alleviate the discomfort: 

  1. Prepare three I strips - two long I-strips and one short. Make sure to round your edges. 
  2. Anchor your tape on the base of your Achilles. Lunge forward to stretch your calf. 
  3. Apply one long  I-strip over the middle part of the calf with 0% tension.
  4. Take the second strip and apply it over the lateral calf with 0% tension. 
  5. Next, take the short strip and give the tape 50% tension and apply it over the area with pain. Make sure to give the ends with 0% tension. 
  6. Rub the tape to activate the adhesive. 

Tape Geeks: The best skin-friendly kinesiology tape for calf strain 

When you’re using kinesiology tape to relieve discomfort from having a calf strain, it’s essential to consider the quality of the kin tape that you’ll be using for the sake of your  skin

Taping shouldn’t just be about muscle and joint support. It should also be  protecting your skin from unwanted rashes and allergies that may be brought about by low-quality adhesives. 

This is precisely what Tape Geeks is all about! 

Enjoy a great stick without making your skin sick with Tape Geeks kinesiology tape! TG tapes are hypoallergenic, zinc-free, and latex-free. What’s more, they’re manufactured in an ISO-certified and dermatologist-approved factory in South Korea which is known for their consistent and reliable adhesives. 

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Power Wrap Cohesive Athletic Tape 

Support, compression, and stability - the  Tape Geeks’ Power Wrap has you covered! With this stretchy and hand-tearable bandage, never be bothered by adhesives, pins, and scissors for prep again. 

Tape Geeks 5 cm (2”) x 5m Premium Kinesiology Tape 

Push your performance further with  Tape Geeks Premium Kinesiology Tape! This strong yet sensitive tape will bring you excellent support while being friendly on the skin. 

Tape Geeks 5 cm (2”) Pre-cut Premium Kinesiology Tape 

Do away with the hassle of cutting and measuring  Tape Geeks 5 CM (2”) Pre-Cut Premium Kinesiology Tape! These pre-cut strips will save you more time for your active lifestyle. 

Tape Geeks Special 2-Pack 

Make sure that you always have a backup roll so that you never run out with  Tape Geeks Special 2 Pack! Support your muscles while helping out your wallet with this bundle. 

Tape Geeks Special 3 Pack 

Enjoy not just support but also more colors to choose from with the  Tape Geeks Special 3-Pack!

Tape Geeks 6-pack Special Bundle 

Never choose between quantity and quality again with the  Tape Geeks 6-pack Special Bundle! Enjoy six rolls of long-lasting, supportive tape and even SAVE MORE! 

Tape Geeks 6-pack Special plus Scissors Kit 

The perfect starter pack for your taping journey,  Tape Geeks 6-pack Special plus with Scissors Kithas everything you’ll ever need! Enjoy six rolls of strong yet sensitive kin tape paired with razor-sharp Japanese stainless steel shears.

Tape Geeks 5 cm (2”) Bulk Premium Kinesiology Tape 

Perfect for professionals and folks who always run out of kin tape,  Tape Geeks 5 cm (2”) Bulk Premium Kinesiology Tape has your back! Enjoy muscle and joint support longer with this roll. 

TG 2-Pack Taping Kit

Always have a taping kit that can keep up with your active lifestyle with the TG 2-Pack Taping Kit! 

With two rolls of kin tape and a pair of razor-sharp scissors, always have muscle and joint support at arm’s reach. 

K Tape 3-pack Kit

Have all the kinesiology taping tools you need with the  K Tape 3-Pack Kit! Enjoy three rolls of ultra-strong and vibrantly colored kin tape that’s gentle on the skin and a pair of razor-sharp shears that can cut through several layers of tape. 

Bandage Scissors 

For medical professionals looking for their go-to trauma shears, the  Tape Geeks’ Bandage Scissorswon’t be a waste of space in your medical bag! Enjoy a reliable and smooth-cutting sesh with these razor-sharp Japanese stainless steel scissors. 

Kinesiology Tape Scissors 

Steer clear of gummed-up shears with  Tape Geeks’ Kinesiology Tape Scissors! This razor-sharp Japanese stainless steel pair that’s built to last a lifetime. Cut through kinesiology tape (and MORE) with ease!   

TG Scissors Bundle

Ensure that every and any cutting session is as smooth as ever with the must-have TG Scissors Bundle! This bundle contains a pair of razor-sharp kinesiology tape scissors and a pair of durable medical scissors that can cut through the toughest materials - even METAL. 


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How do you prevent calf strain?

There are several things you can do to help prevent calf strains, including:

  • Stretching your calf muscles minutes before exercise and after 
  • Wearing supportive shoes with good arch support
  • Avoiding sudden changes in direction or excessive jumping
  • Strengthening your calf muscles with exercises like calf raises

What are the best exercises for calf strain recovery?

Here are some simple exercises that you can do if you’re recovering from a calf strain: 

Calf stretch 

  1. Look for a stable surface that you can hold onto - this can be a sturdy chair or a wall. 
  2. Place both your hands on it. Then, take your leg and push it out. 
  3. You want to straighten your knee out as much as you can, feeling a stretch in your calf. While stretching, make sure that your toes are facing straight forward and not out to the side. 
  4. If you’re unable to hold this for a minute, work your way up to it. Don’t push through the pain. And, if you can’t get your heel on the ground, work into it trying to attain that motion. 
  5. Hold the position for as long as you can, working up to a minute before switching sides. 

Calf raises

  1.  You can opt to use dumbbells or no equipment for this exercise. Place your hands on your sides and you’re going to lift onto the balls of your feet. 
  2. When lifting, squeeze your calves before going back down.
  3. While doing the movements, make sure that you keep your shoulders back, your core is tight, and you’re standing straight. 
  4.  Do this 15 to 20 times for three sets. 


That’s all for this article on calf strains. If you think you might have a calf strain, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional to get the correct diagnosis and treatment plan.

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Be sure to check out our blog for more information on different aches and pains. We have a ton of information that can help you on the different kinesiology taping protocols that you can try for a variety of injuries like  abdominal strain andgolfer’s elbow

Thanks for reading!