A sore calf muscle typically results from sudden or unusually strenuous exercise leading to muscle strain. Stress, cold weather, and vitamin deficiency can also be contributing factors. With this type of injury, the muscles on the back of the leg become tender and tight because of tears in the muscle fibre. A sore calf muscle can be quite severe, sometimes even impeding walking; such cases may merit a visit to the doctor. A mild strain is no cause for concern and can be treated easily without consulting a physician.
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Things you need
- Ice pack
- Ibuprofen or other pain reliever
- Heating pad
- Compression bandage
Ice the sore calf. This is considered the most effective method for pain relief with sore muscles. Ice the area for about 15 minutes four times a day until the swelling and pain subside. Avoid direct skin contact by wrapping the ice pack in a small towel. Keep your leg elevated whenever possible and start icing within 24 hours.
Take an over-the-counter pain and fever reducer. Ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen are all effective pain relievers. Make sure to eat something before taking these pills. Wait 24 hours to start taking pain relievers.
Wear a compression to reduce swelling. Compression bandages are available at most pharmacies. Wrap for support but do not tighten the bandage to the point where circulation is compromised.
Use a heating pad if you are still experiencing pain after four or five days. Use heat when you return to physical activity, especially before stretching and exercising.
Stretch your calf muscles before attempting any strenuous physical activity, such as running. Stretch often throughout the day to avoid cramping and subsequent pain.
Ask your physician about strength training exercises you can do to prevent calf strains in the future. Ask a sports trainer about proper exercise technique.
Tips and warnings
- Get plenty of rest and avoid most physical activity when treating a sore calf. Don't rush the recovery because you could wind up in worse shape.
- A warm bath can help soothe muscles.
- A healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables can help prevent muscle strains in the future. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Consult a physician if the soreness does not get better within a week or so.
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