When it comes to calf pain, what you have to understand is that there are a variety of factors that can lead to this type of condition. It's important to not think of calf pain as just a single condition because the reason why you experience it can be entirely different from the next person who has similar symptoms. There are several ways to treat calf pain and if you want to learn more about them then keep on reading our post!
Calf Pain Treatments
One great way to help reduce the pain in your calves and start feeling better is with some simple treatments you can perform at home. It's very comforting to know that there are ways to treat your calf pain in a non-intimidating place designed for people just like you!
RICE for Soleus Muscles
A calf muscle injury that has been caused by exercise should start to recover using the RICE acronym. This is used for any mild injuries, and it's recommended in cases when someone suffers from a muscle tear.
One of the best ways to treat a muscle injury is by resting. Stressing the muscles even on days when you aren't doing any kind of exercise or activity can do more harm than good and delay your return to full fitness. Although it's hard for athletes and busybodies, giving your body some time to heal without over-exerting yourself is imperative because while they get healed they will be itching to get back into action faster but this eagerness can often cause more damage than necessary.
Ice may not be the most exciting solution for treating muscle injuries, but it's been known to work wonders. The cold numbs pain and helps minimize swelling in the area by constricting the blood vessels. You can use a cold therapy pack or submerge your calf in a cold bath periodically throughout the day for an hour. This can keep you going through the first couple of days following an injury where treatment is most effective. Never sleep with a cold pack, however, as it has been known to cause irreversible damage to your skin tissue!
The third letter in RICE stands for compression. To begin, grab an elastic bandage or a brace with Velcro straps to put on your lower leg. By doing so, you will be able to reduce swelling and support the muscle at the same time. Make sure that the compression is tight enough that you may see blood vessels through the material but not too tight to cause pain or seriously limit blood flow.
Calf pain can be reduced, in part, by resting the affected area. While you're off your feet and on the couch, grab two pillows and stack them under your leg. Elevation will reduce swelling that contributes to calf pain. You might want to readjust the pillows a few times throughout the day to ensure that you are achieving an elevation higher than above your heart!
Calf Stretches and Exercises
Getting cramps in your calves is the worst. It's a very irritating thing to bear when you're desperate to run, walk or even just stay awake. But as long as there aren't any significant pain or swelling issues accompanying the cramping then it's important not to panic. If you want to alleviate calf pain without breaking the bank, try a simple stretching program that will not only maintain your range of motion and flexibility but will also strengthen your muscles over time so you never have to suffer from this debilitating combo of feelings again!
Foam Rolling Tight Calves
A foam roller is a self-massage tool that applies pressure and releases deep into the muscles to relieve tension and alleviate soreness. If your calves are experiencing pain you can use the foam roller to release any muscle knots or trigger points that could be causing your issues. It's important not to roll over broken skin or blood clots however until you've healed enough for them to not become further irritated by the application of the foam roller.
When you want to treat a calf injury at home, a couple of over-the-counter (OTC) medications are often recommended as they are effective and provide excellent relief. The first option available is commonly an anti-inflammatory medication (like Motrin or Advil), which reduces swelling and pain. When choosing your course of treatment, another common option is using pain relief creams that target soreness, stiffness, and discomfort without draining fluids from your body. However, it's important to note that It's always best to check in with a health care professional if you're taking on new medications. So, as to avoid any unintended negative side effects for people with certain pre-existing medical conditions to be kept in mind.
If you've suffered a calf injury, it's important to make some lifestyle changes that will help prevent another calf injury from occurring in the future. Here is a list of other lifestyle changes for you to consider making:
- Stop smoking
- Give your body proper warm-up and cool down with exercise
- Keep a healthy weight
- Limit caffeine and alcohol
- Stretch regularly
- Stay well hydrated to avoid muscle cramps
- Avoid over-exercising
Physical Therapy for Calf Muscle Strain
When your calf muscle strain is severe then you really should seek out a professional to help you through the process. If your calf pain started occurring and it's preventing you from being able to walk too well, if it lingers around for longer than a few days or it's causing redness, swelling, or deformation of any sort along your lower leg then you need to get yourself checked out by a trusted medical professional immediately. Here are a few things that could potentially be the cause of this issue but unfortunately won't be easy for you to treat on your own in time.
- Compartment syndrome
- Peripheral artery disease
- Nerve damage
- Deep vein thrombosis (also known as DVT, which can lead to a pulmonary embolism)
Physical therapists are very specialized in their approach to treating leg pain. A thorough physical examination is performed to evaluate your situation as well as determine a treatment plan. While in the therapist's office, you will be instructed on a series of stretches and exercises that have been proven effective to improve your range of motion and strengthen weakened or atrophied muscles. Many times you will be sent home with handouts illustrating these exercises so that you may continue improving at home for optimal results.
Nighttime Calf Pain Relief
Getting a good night's sleep can be difficult when you have calf pain at night. This type of pain often disrupts your sleep time as well as makes your next day pretty stressful. If this problem affects you, we highly recommend that you focus on methods like elevating your legs with a pillow, stretching out to release the tension, or identifying over-the-counter medication solutions to treat your symptoms. No one approach will work best for everyone experiencing nighttime calf pain--but hopefully, by experimenting with all three solutions we have mentioned here today: exercise therapy, medications, and heat & cold therapy treatments; you will find which option works best for you.
Caring for Tight Calf Muscles
Calf pain treatment begins with identifying the source of the pain and addressing what's causing it. If you have a mild muscle injury at-home remedies such as massaging and rest may help relieve swelling and discomfort. If you have a severe injury, it's time to see your doctor. When in doubt, always visit a professional so they can determine the best treatment plan for your specific condition.