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Calf Strain: Symptoms, Treatment and your Recovery

how to treat a calf strain

A calf strain is a common problem, particularly if you are a runner. However, it is not exclusive to those who run. In fact, calf strains will affect much of the population at some point in their lives.

If you have ever experienced a sharp pain in the lower back of your leg while running or jumping, there’s a good chance you have experienced a strain on some level. Pair it with achilles pain, and you’ve also got a common problem, as the two often are found to go hand in hand.

How Does a Calf Strain Feel?

A calf strain feels much like a sharp pain or pull in the calf that is felt when you are pushing off when walking, walking uphill, walking up or down stairs. And often includes some swelling, heat, redness, and pain in the area.

A strain can range from mild to severe, and this is something your chiropractor can help to determine.

What if it’s Something Else?

The first thing your chiropractor will do is rule out other possibilities. A calf strain can sometimes offer similar symptoms as DVT (deep vein thrombosis), which is a blood clot that can result in a pulmonary embolism.

Similarly, a calf strain can look much like radiculopathy which is an S1 nerve compression which is a result of a herniated disc. Rhabdomylosis offers another similar feeling, but is a syndrome caused by the death of muscle tissue resulting from an injury.

It Could Be a Result of Something Less Obvious

The causes of calf strain are not always due to a quick injury. Rather, they can be a result of any repetitive movement that causes strain such as;

  • Overtraining during exercise
  • Spending too much time on the treadmill or elliptical
  • Oversupinated feet
  • Wearing heels
  • Old bunions
  • Wearing shoes that are old
  • Wearing shoes that are tight
  • Spending too much time on the stairmaster
  • Weak glutes and hamstrings
  • Old ankle sprains
  • Old stress fractures

What About Treatment for a Calf Strain?

Treatments include RICE (rest, ice, compression and Elevation) in the beginning stages, but the move to rehabilitation is critically important in the healing process. Neurokinetic Therapy is an assessment and treatment system that we use to uncover and correct compensation patterns in your body. Because there is alway compensation, massage alone, nor will adjustments alone do the trick when it comes to your healing.

Typically, weak muscles in seemingly unrelated areas of the body will require strengthening.

These muscles include your core – internal obliques, TVA (transverse abdominal muscles), and your QL which are your deepest abdominal muscles. Weak glutes, hamstrings, and even overactive calves can all lead to calf sprains and injuries.

These areas, in addition to moving up the posterior chain all need to be observed and considered together when determining an appropriate treatment plan for your injury.


  1. Replacing footwear
  2. ART (active release therapy) on the calf muscles
  3. Retraining the gait for runners, so they can prevent further injury
  4. Strength training – including deadlifts and kettlebell swings for the posterior chain, pallof press for anti-rotation, and lunges to standing.

Your Calf in Relation to Your Achilles

It is common to have a calf strain in relation to achilles pain because the achilles tendon (which is the largest tendon in the body) connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. The achilles tendon bears a great deal of weight. And is largely used with the calf muscle when walking, climbing, and running. This makes it susceptible to various stress related injuries, and to injuries directly related to the calf muscle. Similarly, a weak achilles can lead further injury to the calf muscle over time as a result of over exercising, beginning exercise routines too vigorously, too quickly, and as a result of age related wear and tear that degenerates tissue over time.

It’s Just What We Do

At the Urban Wellness Clinic we are fully equipped through education, methods, and therapies that will allow us to take a look from head to toe, to ensure the best possible treatment plan specific to your injury and your body.

Our experience and education have lead us in the direction of treating the root of the problem, not just the injury as calf strains are often a result of something happening anatomically outside of the actual calf muscle.

We are trained in not looking at the obvious, and digging deeper to ensure our clients have a better chance at living injury free.

With calf strains being so common, it’s important to arm yourself with education around the best treatment options. If left to heal incorrectly, you could risk further injury in the future as a result of weakness.

And, even aggravating the old injury again.

We specialize in providing the best holistic treatment options and care. And, in educating our clients so they can live a life that has fewer injuries, less pain, and more confidence in their ability to remain active.

Your ability and willingness to remain active after an injury is important to us.

I hope you have found this information helpful, and please follow up with one of the chiropractors here at Urban Wellness Clinic if you have any questions regarding your own personal healing process. Or feel free to reach out to one of our doctors at 212-355-0445 or

In Good Health,

Dr Emily Kiberd