Calf Muscles – Pathology, Strain, Diagnosis, Treatment & Exercises

The calf is considered the back area of lower leg in human anatomy which gets engaged with posterior section of the leg and the posterior is further divided into deep & superficial sections. These sections include 2 types of muscles called gastrocnemius and the soleus. These are known as triceps surae as they are thought to be a pair and this pair is attached with the heel through Achilles tendon. There are many other types of muscles which are attached with ankles, knees and toes through long tendons.

Triceps Surae

calfmusclesThe triceps surae is the combination of two muscles i.e. gastrocnemius and the soleus and it is positioned inside the calf. Both of these muscles slot into heel bone known as calcaneus. These muscles are the major contributors in forming calf muscles.

Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon which is also known as calcaneal tendon or tendo calcaneus is a main tendon that connects muscles and bone in posterior leg.

Posterior Leg Muscles

The calf muscle, on back side of the lower leg is basically made up with the combination of 2 types of muscles called gastrocnemius and soleus. Both of these muscles are merged at calf muscles base.

The Gastrocnemius

The gastrocnemius is a two headed muscle comparatively a larger type of calf muscle and it develops the lump observable underneath the skin. The gastrocnemius has two parts or “heads,” which together create its diamond shape.

The Soleus

The soleus is comparatively a smaller muscle and it is found beneath the larger muscle.

Exercises & Stretches to Target Calf Muscles

man doing calf exercise1) Ankle Circles

They are some types of stretching which are used to work with the calf muscles. The stretching is basically for the beginners but creates great isolation. You don’t need to arrange any type of equipment as it is perfumed only with the help of ankle.

2) Barbell Seated Calf Raise

You can also use barbell seated calf raise to strengthen your calf muscles. It requires pushing force as you will use barbells. However, the level of isolation will be great when you perform it.

3) Calf Stretch Elbows Against Wall

It is a type of stretches and the main muscles for which it works are calves. The level of training is beginner and the stretch type is general. No equipment is required.

4) Donkey Calf Raises

It is another stretch for gaining strength. This is best for the people in their intermediate level. The use of this exercise will create isolation.

5) Standing Soleus or Achilles Stretch

They are also known as calf Stretch because the main target of these stretches is to train calves and their effectiveness especially with this muscle group has been proven which has made them very popular.


Deep Vein Thrombosis

The Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious health condition in which thrombus or blood clots are formed in veins and this condition usually develops in leg veins. In most of the cases, no symptoms appear except in a few cases in which the effected person feel pain in calf muscles. DVT may be the results of still sitting for a long period of time. If you

Compartment Syndrome

Another health problem is Compartment syndrome which can be caused by an injury and in this case, the affected person may experience painful swelling & augmented pressure within a section. In this condition, the supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and nerves gets prevented.

The lower leg or calf muscles get connected with the help of tendons or fibrous bands and these bands are not capable to get stretched and therefore, they don’t help in relieving swelling. This is really a serious condition and if the treatment is not carried out in time, the condition may get worse and the muscles and nerves systems may die.

Achilles Tendon Rupture

The Achilles tendon is one of the most important parts of your leg and it is positioned just behind & above heel. The calf muscles are connected with heel bone with the help of Achilles tendon. The main function of this important part is to make foot bend easily towards the ankle.

In case, the Achilles tendon gets torn, this condition will be called an Achilles tendon rupture and the tearing process may be partial or quite complicated. In case of a partial tear, the tendon is partly torn but still joined to the calf muscle. With complete tears, the tendon is completely torn so that the connection between the calf muscles and the ankle bone is lost.

Pain, Strain or Pull

Someone, you may feel a sudden and sharp pain in your calf muscles while doing some sort of physical activities, the pain can be the result of muscle torn or pulled. This condition is commonly known as calf strain.

If you try to stretch your calf muscles more than their range, they can be pulled or torn which will result in calf strain. The other reasons of strain are sudden stress put on muscles, high blow to muscles, participation in games that require speed, quickness, stress and pressure such as running, jumping, soccer, rugby, basketball, football, etc.

Symptoms of Calf Muscle Strain

Calf muscles strain symptoms may vary from person to person but in most of the cases, the effected person feel a sudden pain at back region of the lower leg. The area which has got strained will be tendered, swelled and bruised.

If the injury is of serious degree, the sufferer will find him unable to run, walk or even stand because of the severity of pain. The most common symptoms are as follows:

  • Extreme pain in calf muscles
  • Feeling of pain if do some physical activities before getting completely cured
  • The suffer will not be able to lift weight
  • Swelling & inflammation are also common
  • Aching and stiffness
  • The calf muscles will seem to be abnormal apparently.
  • Weak calf muscles
  • Pain whiling pushing off the foot or standing on tiptoe
  • Bruising on the calf
  • Popping feeling because of tearing of muscles


If case of muscles strain occurrence, you need to see your doctor who will ask you some of the questions about the symptoms you have been observing and physical condition to understand the actual causes of the problem. Along with the questions, a physical examination will also be carried out. The strain in calf muscles are categorized according to severity of the condition.

  • Grade 1: Normal level of stretching with micro tearing
  • Grade 2: Partial level of tearing
  • Grade 3: Complete tearing

Treatment for Calf Muscle Strain

When you visit your doctor, he will suggest you the best treatment plan, however, the recovery period will completely depend upon the grades. Some of the common treatment steps are as follows:

Complete Rest

The first step will be complete rest and you need to give proper rest to your muscles to enable healing process. Therefore, you must avoid all such activities which cause extra stress and pressure on muscles.

Avoid Sports

No matter, how passionate you are about playing games, you have to stop yourself in participating in physical sports such as soccer, basketball, etc.

Avoid weight lifting

Lifting weight will put pressure on your muscles which will not let those muscles heal and therefore, you must avoid lifting weight until you get completely cured.

Cold Pack Application

The doctors also suggest application of cold packs to the affected area for about fifteen minutes for 3-4 times a day.

Pain Relief

To get quick relief from pain, you can use over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, creams, patches and pain relievers.

Elastic Compression

Doctors also suggest elastic compression bandage to prevent swelling.


If is better to keep your leg higher than the level of your heart for about a day.

The above are some of the common step but are really helpful in boosting the recovery process at a higher pace.