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I suffered a minor calf strain playing indoor cricket yesterday. I iced the muscle for around 4 hours after the injury. It has pulled up stiff and a little sore this morning, although I wouldn't describe it as painful and I can walk, albeit with a bit of a limp.

When the injury occur I 'felt something go' but I doubt it is a full tear, just a strain. My question is how soon is too soon to start gently stretching and restrengthening after an injury like this? I'd like to get back to full fitness as soon as I can, but I don't want to make things worse by going to hard too early.

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2 Answers 2

Bogdanovist,

Read this article as it will give you the best evidence based research about your question and a treatment plan.

If you can have access to a PT near by, I strongly suggest you to go see one. Make sure a PT is experience with sports injuries. Real quick tips to get back on your feet fast:

  1. Get a deep tissue massage.
  2. Perform eccentric strengthening like this one, once you can stand on one foot without pain.
  3. No running or jumping until you can perform 3 sets of 20 reps of single leg standing calf raise pain free.

Quick tips on how to prevent this injury in the future:

  1. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate.
  2. Perform dynamic warming up prior to practices and games. You don't have to do all of them, just some of them, but make sure you will sweat lightly afterwards.
  3. Eccentric strengthening exercises.
  4. Core strengthening exercises.

I hope you find this answer is helpful!

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1  
Thanks, very useful. You're not wrong about the stretching and warming up. I normally do but I was running late for this game and didn't have time to warm-up before we started playing. I haven't had any issues previously and in all the previous games I did warm up... –  Bogdanovist Mar 13 '13 at 5:28
2  
And +1 Million for provide peer reviewed evidence. –  Bogdanovist Mar 13 '13 at 5:29

Note: The following is general strain/sprain treatment. Your treatment may vary, you need to be aware of your own pain and get medical attention if necessary.

RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This is what you want to do for the first 24-48 hours for strains and sprains. Once you are past that, you can start doing light activity as you can stand it. Ice after activity, and alternate with moist heat to help drive excess fluid out of the tissues.

Calves are tricky, as during running and jumping, they are the main shock absorbers for the legs, so it's easy to re-injure them or delay their healing by going too hard, too soon so be very aware of how you and your legs are feeling.

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