Rehabilitation for Calf Muscle Strain

There are two calf muscles located at the back of the lower leg, the gastrocnemius and the soleus. These muscles are important, providing strength and stability to both the knee and heel joints. Calf muscle strains are injuries that commonly result when the muscle is stretched, or pulled, beyond its usual limits. For this reason, the injury is frequently referred to as a "pulled" muscle. Calf muscle strains are most common in athletes whose sport requires quick bursts of speed, including running, basketball, soccer and football.

Mild calf muscle strains can usually be treated at home with simple techniques that include rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication is usually effective in controlling pain and swelling, especially in combination with the application of ice packs. As the muscle heals, many patients benefit from a customized rehabilitation program that includes physical exercises specifically designed to restore strength and flexibility to the area.

Initial physical therapy treatments may include massage and electrical stimulation which help to provide pain relief and improve circulation to assist in the healing process. After a period of rest, rehabilitation focuses on restoring movement with light stretches that help to improve flexibility. Additional exercises may then be introduced to strengthen muscles and regain range of motion. Eventually, the individual will be able to perform the exercises at home. It is important to continue the exercises prescribed by the physical therapist, to ensure a complete recovery and return to all physical activity. Depending on the severity of the muscle strain, complete recovery may take several weeks to several months.

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