A pulled calf muscle can occur when playing a sport or going for a jog. Many individuals will take a pulled calf injury too lightly, and as a result experience discomfort far longer than necessary. You can even make a pulled calf muscle worse by not handling the injury with proper care. By knowing how to care for a pulled calf muscle, you can limit swelling and get back to 100 per cent as quickly as possible. Follow these recommendations.
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Begin by wrapping your leg with a compression bandage. Wrap from the heel of your foot all the way up to the injured calf. The bandage should be snug on your leg, but not so tight that it is uncomfortable. Wrapping can help to prevent and even reduce swelling caused by the pulled calf muscle.
Rest your pulled calf muscle. In the first 24 to 48 hours, you should attempt to stay off of the injured leg as much as possible. Using crutches isn't a bad idea during the first day or two after the injury. After this initial period, you can put weight on the injured leg but you should still limit your activities. Avoid any exercise or strenuous activity for at least a week following the injury.
Elevate the injured leg throughout the day. Lay in bed with your leg extended or rest the leg on a chair or ottoman. This should be done whenever you are sitting down during the first 48 hours after the injury. After this time period, you should still elevate the injured leg for at least an hour a day for a week.
Ice the pulled calf muscle three to four times a day. Place a towel or cloth over the pulled calf muscle and set an ice pack (or bag) on your leg. Leave the ice on the injury for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. You should do this while elevating your leg (see previous step) as a way to reduce swelling.
Take anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, on a daily basis. This medicine can help decrease the pain caused by the pulled calf muscle and help to reduce swelling.
Start stretching the pulled calf muscle a couple of days after the injury. You can do this either sooner or later depending on how much pain you are experiencing. Sit on the ground with your injured leg fully extended and directly in front of you. Bend forward and extend your hand to the toes of the injured leg. Go as far as you can (to your toes if possible) and hold this for 10 straight seconds. Perform four to five reps of this stretch at least three times a day.
Tips and warnings
- Be patient. It can take weeks for a pulled calf muscle to fully heal. Do not try to do more than you can on the injured leg until you no longer feel any pain in that leg.
- Inspect the injured leg at the beginning and end of each day. If swelling has increased or if you are feeling more pain, you should call your doctor as you may have a serious injury.