The calf is the anatomical part of the lower leg. It consists from a lot of structures, from nerves and vessels to the muscles and tendons. When we say sore calf muscles, we think of a few different parts of a muscle. There is one main muscle, triceps surae. This muscle has two parts, or heads, one named gastrocnemius and another soleus. The upper part of the calf is mostly made out of muscles while the lower area is purely out of tendons. These muscle fibers stretch to the back of the heel building Achilles’ tendon. There are a few reasons why sore calf can happen, and some of them are due to an injury or it can be also the symptom of some kind of a disease. Let’s see some examples.
As you can infer, muscle strain is a type of a condition caused by an injury. The muscle triceps surae contracts and normally plantarflexes the foot i.e. pulls it downwards. If the type of a movement consists out of stretching the muscle, it can result in straining and soreness. A muscle can rupture, leading to complications and more painful condition.
You’ve surely must have felt many times the cramp in your calf muscle. They can be a result of an overuse of a muscle or as a reaction to cold, like the cramp inside the cold water. This kind of a muscle contraction can be pretty painful and doesn’t have to be a pathological sign of any disease. It will subside in a few minutes and there is nothing to worry about.
Achilles’ tendon is a tendon going from the muscle in your calf area to the back of the heel. It can be stretched sometimes during taking the steps or in other movements where the tendon stretches. It can be a cruciating pain with swelling and soreness. Achilles’ tendon is not so flexible, even though it is strong. This kind of an injury can last a long time, to a several months period.
There are a few nerves coming along the calf area which can be compressed in the exact area or extending from the partition of the spine. It can be compressed with muscles or between joints which can cause an inflammation and soreness in the calf. It should be checked out by your doctor in order to find the right cause.
Bursa is the sac filled with fluid positioned behind the knee. It has a role in preventing the friction between the muscles. If there is an inflammation, an excess fluid in synovia can develop leading to cyst development. When this cyst enters the bursa, it creates Bakers cyst. It can cause pain and soreness with swelling of the knee. They affect more women than man and are more often after the age of 40. The most common cause can be an inflammation of the joint due to osteoarthritis. You can feel a small bulge in the popliteal pit, usually around 3 cm.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
It is a disease which is caused by the thickening of the blood, making a clump inside the veins of the lower leg. It can be a consequence of a long inactivity period, a trauma such as a car crash. There is a high risk of thromboembolism where a blood clot can break off and go into the lungs. This is an emergency condition which needs to be taken care of quickly.
Home Remedies For Calf Soreness
If you experience a sore calf muscle, there are some steps that you can do by yourself to reduce the pain and further injury.
- Cold compresses. Try to put ice for 15 min or so. It will help with the pain reduction and it can prevent bruising and inflammation progression.
- Elevation of the leg. You should slightly elevate the leg above the heart line to avoid the appearance of an edema and to reduce swelling.
- You should exclude any activity in anytime soon to prevent any further damage.
- Immobilisation. You can try and make a bandage around the calf to stop it from moving. This will help with the muscle relaxation and will calm down the inflammation.
After the resting period, it is time to stretch those muscles so as they wouldn’t shrink. You can include physical therapy and some activity to a level where it doesn’t produce any pain. Start easy and slowly build up the range of movements.
Risk Factors For Calf Injury
There is some behavior which is more prone to injury and stretching of the muscles and tendons. Other than the activity, some people have more predisposition to tendon stretch due to tight calf muscles. Every sport that includes muscle extension like basketball, football, long jumps, etc., can result in a calf damage. It is important to stretch before any activity and warm up to prevent any strain. Injuries are more often in the winter where the air pressure tends to get lower, causing the swelling of the surrounding tissue. This can lead to joint pressure causing more possibility to joint injury and a strained muscle.
Tips And Preventive Measures
When doing any activity, warm up first. You should take about 5-10 minutes to stretch the muscles and to prepare it for any pressure coming. This can help with prevention. Do not go over your limits. Know your range of movements and do not surpass it or do it very carefully and slowly. Learn proper exercise to prevent any damage. Doing certain moves incorrectly can cause damage so try to inform about the sports or activity you’re doing. Hydrate yourself well with plenty of water to prevent any tightness. If you know you are prone to injury or you have tight calf muscles, try to use compresses or bandages to prevent any damage. This will support the muscle and the movement and will secure it if a certain move strains the muscle a little too much. If you’re suffering from other conditions which can lead to complications, visit a professional to solve the problem and recover.