Your soleus muscle, also referred to as the calf muscle, is located in the back of your lower leg. According to Aurora Health Care, a strained calf muscle occurs when there is a partial tear in the muscle fibers. Tight calf muscles, fatigue and participation in sports can increase your chances of developing a soleus strain. Strains can result from a direct blow to the calf or overusing your calf muscles. Conservative treatment usually is used in the treatment of soleus muscle strains.
Try self-care methods such as RICE. RICE is an acronym for the four treatment steps. Rest your affected leg; avoid exercising or participation in sports. Ice your affected leg; apply cold packs to your leg for 15 to 20 minutes at a time four times daily. Use a compression bandage; wear an elastic bandage around your calf muscle to help reduce swelling. Elevate your affected leg; use pillows to keep your soleus elevated above heart level for as much as possible for the first day.
Visit with a doctor. If pain does not subside on its own after three days, make an appointment with a doctor. A physical examination as well as imaging studies can help determine the severity of your injury. For severe pain, your doctor may recommend the use of crutches for a few days to help promote healing. Physical therapy also may be recommended.
Take over-the-counter pain medication as directed by your doctor. This can help reduce pain and inflammation.
Engage in a stretching program once your pain is gone to reduce the chances of reinjury. If a doctor sends you to physical therapy, you likely will be taught a home exercise program. Perform towel stretches, seated calf stretches and heel raises to help strengthen and stretch your hamstrings. Hold each stretch for 10 seconds. Complete stretches in one set of six repetitions, four to six times daily.
- National Academy of Sports Medicine: Essentials of Personal Fitness Training; Scott Luccett
- Therapeutic Exercise for Musculoskeletal Injuries; Peggy Houglum, Ph.D.
- Aurora Health Care; Calf Muscle Strain; Laura LaRusso