A common injury among athletes, calf strain is easy to recognise - it is characterised by a sharp pain as the muscle is forcibly stretched beyond its limits and becomes damaged.
Doctors classify calf strains as either a first, second or third degree calf strain, depending on the severity. Symptoms to look for include:
- Sudden sharp pain in the muscle
- Pain when stretching the muscle
- Pain when standing on tip toes
However, whatever degree of injury you have suffered, the initial treatment will be same - RICE:
Within a day or two it should be apparent how severe the injury is. While mild injuries will recover in a matter of days, more severe problems can take weeks or even months to recover.
As soon as the pain has subsided enough to allow limited activity, a program of stretching and strengthening is essential if further injury is to be avoided. In addition to rehab, you can help to avoid further injury if you do the following:
- Warming up prior to activity
- Cooling down following activity
- Stretching regularly to maintain muscle length
- Maintaining fluid levels during exercise