A common runner's injury, calf strain is characterised by a sharp pain as the muscle is forcibly stretched beyond its limits and the becomes torn.
Calf strains are categorised as either a first, second or third degree calf strain, depending on the severity. Typical symptoms include:
- Sudden sharp pain in the muscle
- Pain when stretching the muscle
- Pain when standing on tip toes
Whatever the degree of injury, the treatment will start out the same - the RICE protocol:
The period of rest will of course depend on the severity of the injury, and can range from several days to several months.
Once pain has subsided enough to allow limited activity, a program of stretching and strengthening is essential if further injury is to be avoided. Ways of avoiding re-injury include:
- Warming up prior to activity
- Cooling down following activity
- Stretching regularly to maintain muscle length
- Maintaining fluid levels during exercise