Torn calf muscle symptoms

Updated February 21, 2017

The symptoms of a torn calf muscle will vary depending on the seriousness of the injury. These injuries may occur when you stretch the calf muscle past a certain point or put a sudden stress on it, such as during a sport that involves quick bursts of speed like football or hurdling.


The gastrocnemius muscle extends from above the knee down to the heel. The soleus muscle starts below the knee and attaches to the heel. Either muscle may endure a tear depending on the circumstances.

Grade 1 strain

The grade 1 strain involves less than 10 per cent of the muscle fibres. Symptoms include some pain in the rear of the lower part of the leg as the muscle experiences a slight tear, which causes the area to become tight. The area may ache for two to five days after the injury.

Grade 2 tear

The more severe grade 2 calf muscle tear involves as much as 90 per cent of the muscle fibres and features acute pain in the back of the leg, especially when walking. Swelling may exist with moderate bruising and the region can ache for as long as a week after the injury.

Grade 3 sprain

More than 90 per cent of calf muscle fibres tear in a grade 3 sprain. You will feel severe pain and not be able to contract the muscle, so walking will not be possible. Obvious bruising will occur at the site of the tear.


Remember the acronym "RICE" for treating a muscle tear, with the letters standing for rest, ice, compression, elevation. You should stay off the leg, use cold packs on the area, wear a compression bandage to alleviate swelling and keep the leg elevated higher than the heart during the first day of the injury.

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About the Author

John Lindell has written articles for "The Greyhound Review" and various other online publications. A Connecticut native, his work specializes in sports, fishing and nature. Lindell worked in greyhound racing for 25 years.