The calf muscle is two muscles called soleus and gastrocnemius muscle, and they can get an injury if they have overstretched. Injuries to calf muscles range from a pull or strain or serious tear that may require a doctor’s attention. These injuries happen due to sudden movements that stretch the calf muscle beyond normal limits.
If a calf muscle has undergone a strain, you will feel a strong pull in the lower part of your leg that is uncomfortable. You may experience a twinge and other signs such as redness, bruising, mild swelling and discomfort when standing on the ball of the foot. A serious pull on the calf muscle affects your mobility that will make you incapable of walking.
To recover from a strained calf muscle takes three days depending on the person, while for others, it can take up to six weeks, but it is possible to do calf strain therapy using treatments at home:
Ice compress or cold compresses
Put the cold pack or ice on the muscle for 10 minutes or 20 minutes to stop the swelling. To avoid harming the skin, you can place a thin cloth between the cold pack and the skin. These compresses can be done every 1 or 2 hours for the first 3 days of the injury when you awake. You can still continue with the compresses till the swelling decreases.
You can begin to substitute cold with heat after about 3 days. Using heat pads, you place hot water bottle and heat pad set low or warm cloth on the calf. Avoid sleeping with a heat pad on the skin, and avoid using a heat pad immediately since it may increase the swelling of the calf.
Wrap the leg using an ace wrap or an elastic bandage to decrease the swelling. Do not wrap it too tight to avoid swelling below the area affected. If the wrapping gets too tight you can loosen the bandage, and you can notice if you see various changes on the calf. Such changes include tingling, numbness, coolness, swelling and an increase in pain below the bandage, and this should show you that the bandage is too tight.
Prop the leg above heart level and rest for a full day
Prop the leg up on a pillow whenever you sit, lie down, or ice it within the three days after injury. Keep it placed above the heart level since this will aid in reducing the swelling on the calf. Return to normal activities or exercise only if the calf is fully free of pain and the swelling has reduced. Do not do things that will worsen the pain. Avoid intense activities that you are in no condition to do.
Read and follow instructions if the doctor gave prescribed medicine for the pain. If you take prescribed medicine, ensure you ask the doctor whether you can take over-the-counter drugs. These drugs are taken temporarily and should not be in use longer than prescribed. If symptoms do not improve in a few days, there may be a serious injury that may require physical therapy or surgery.