How to Pull a Calf Muscle

Injury prevention will keep you on the playing field.
Injury prevention will keep you on the playing field. (Image: soccer image by Snezana Skundric from

Pulling your calf muscle refers to a muscle strain of the gastrocnemius muscle located in your lower leg behind the shin. Degrees of muscle strain vary from minor to major, according to the Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A Grade 1 strain is indicated by mild pain and tenderness resolving itself in two to three weeks. Grade 2 strains involve more significant tearing in the muscles taking one to two months to recover, while a Grade 3 strain is the most severe because the muscle fibers completely rupture and may take more than three months to heal. Knowing how you pull your calf is the key to injury prevention.

Start aerobic and sports without warming up and stretching. Not giving muscles enough time to loosen up leads to excessive strain on the lower leg. Activities involving running, jumping and kicking are especially susceptible.

Exert the muscle too much in one day or over a short period of time. Calf muscle strain can happen when doing weights or training for sports. Pushing yourself without giving your muscles adequate time to rest either during or between workouts can lead to calf strains.

Play high contact sports, such as soccer, football and rugby, with a high likelihood of getting kicked in the calf. A direct blow to the lower leg muscle can lead to muscle tear or rupture, especially if your calf is in full contraction when the blow occurs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ice, rest and elevation help alleviate the pain and swelling of a pulled calf muscle. Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also will assist in reducing swelling.
  • Talk to a doctor or a physical therapist if you are concerned about straining your calf muscle. Proper evaluation and diagnosis can help prevent further injury and improve recovery time.

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