A calf strain is a common ailment experienced by people who often employ high impact activities involving the legs. A calf strain is usually a result of the injury of the muscles behind the legs and may occur with a tensed or tender calf muscles. If you have been feeling pain at the back of your legs, then the next thing that you need to do is to treat the condition immediately so you will be back to maximum performance and mobility.
The managements for calf strain are usually based on the degree of the injury; nevertheless, the main goal of the treatments is to relieve the torn or the overstretched gastrocnemius muscle at the back of the leg. During treatment, you may still perform activities that do not aggravate pain; however, you must first manage pain before you can resume activities normally. The following are the common treatment modalities for a calf strain:
Rest is one of the initial things that you need to employ when treating calf pain. Rest means avoiding activities that aggravate pain, but not to the extent of employing complete bed rest for several days. Your level of pain will usually guide the activity level that you need to employ. Take note of pain while doing various activities and avoid these activities until the pain subsides.
The use of ice packs is a classic management for any type of muscle strain. In the case of a calf strain, ice packs ensure that swelling is reduced to a significant degree. When swelling is reduced, significant pain is also reduced and mobility is maximized.
- Application heat
Heat is employed when swelling has already subsided. Heat application relaxes the muscles effectively to allow the individual to employ stretching and other exercises for the calf muscles. With heat application, discomforts are also reduced before and after an activity because the warm temperature relaxes the muscle fibres in the calf.
- Anti-inflammatory medications
For patients with severe tearing of the gastrocnemius muscle, anti-inflammatory medications may help relieve the pain faster than icing or heat application. You may take ibuprofen or naproxen every 6 hours for pain.
Rehabilitation of the calf muscles is initiated by stretching exercises. Stretching ensures that the muscles regain maximum flexibility and strength. Common calf stretches include:
- Leg extension
This is done by sitting on the floor with the legs extended. Maintain the heel joint in a 90 degree angle and slowly move the toes towards the shin. When a full stretch is reached, hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds then, slowly release. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
- Reaching the toes
This is similar to leg extensions only that you consciously aim to reach the toes with your hands whether in a sitting position (similar to the above exercise) or standing. Make sure you never overstretch just to reach the toes. If you feel pain and discomfort while doing the stretch you may just stop at a distance that does not result in pain.
These managements are usually simple ways to manage calf strains. If you are having doubts about your condition or your pain doesn’t go away, despite the managements, visit a physician or a chiropractor for a professional advice.