Training Time: Calf Strain

Training Time with Max Benton

Max Benton is the Cavaliers Athletic Trainer and tends to the immediate medical needs of the team’s players. Most of his duties center around preventative medicine, treatment, and rehabilitation.

This information should not be used as diagnosis of a particular condition and is intended only to be informative. If you are experiencing symptoms of any kind, please consult a doctor.


Calf strains can develop from participation in athletics where a lot of running is done. Runners in cross country and track are possibly more prone to developing calf strain, simply because those athletes are constantly running. Other athletes in sports, such as football, tennis, hockey, and basketball, can also potentially develop a calf strain.


Calf strain strikes in the back of the lower leg. There are three muscles—two heads of a gastrocnemius (big muscle) and the soleus (smaller muscle further down and under the gastrocnemius). The strain is caused when either of those two muscles rip away from the Achilles tendon.


Since they occur from athletics that involve a larger percentage of running (football, track, tennis), calf strains can occur from one or more of the following:

  • Sudden acceleration or deceleration
  • Ineffective warm-up and cool down prior to exercise
  • Sudden increase in mileage or hill work
  • Dehydration


    The pain from a calf strain can feel similar to an Achilles tendon rupture and the feeling from developing one is like being hit in the leg. You might notice a sudden pain in the back of the leg, in addition to an audible “pop”. It is highly likely you’ll have trouble contracting the muscle and standing tip-toe. There may also be swelling or bruising in the area.


  • R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)—as soon as you can following the injury
  • Take an anti-inflammatory to help reduce swelling
  • Wrap your calf (starting at the toes and working up to the knee) with a 4-inch Ace bandage—this will help to keep blood from pooling in the foot and ankle
  • Wear a heel pad to raise the heel and shorten the calf muscle, which will take some strain off the area
  • Consult with a sports physician who can pinpoint the right treatment and rehabilitation program for you