A calf muscle tear, or strain, can occur when muscle tension is excessive due to too much repetition or high force. A partial tear or complete tear can afflict one or both muscles that make up the calf. Pain, swelling, stiffness and bruising in the belly of the muscle are common signs of a torn calf muscle. Under the guidance of a health care professional, stretching and strengthening exercises are critical for recovery as well as prevention of repeated injury to the muscle.
Seated Calf Stretch
The seated calf stretch will provide a gentle stretch of the injured muscle while also improving blood flow and range of motion. Begin performing this exercise only after the acute pain from the tear has diminished and your health care provider gives you the green light to begin rehabilitation exercises. Sit on the floor with your injured leg extended to the front. Carefully flex your ankle and bring your toes toward your body until you feel a stretch through the back of your calf. Hold the stretch for five to 10 seconds, then relax your ankle. Repeat this exercise several times throughout the day. As your flexibility improves, you can begin to hold the stretch for longer periods of time.
Standing Calf Stretch
This calf muscle exercise provides a more intense and dynamic stretch for the torn muscle. This stretch should be attempted only after you can perform the seated stretch without pain or discomfort. Stand facing a wall and place your hands flat against it. Step back with your injured leg while maintaining a slight bend in your healthy leg. Straighten your knee and press the heel of your injured leg down while gently pressing forward into your bent knee. Press forward until you feel a mild stretch in your torn calf muscle. Hold the stretch for five to 10 seconds. Repeat the stretch several times throughout the day.
Your calf muscles work exclusively to lift your heels off the floor. This simple exercise will allow for a gentle strengthening of your torn calf muscle. If pain or discomfort occurs, stop the exercise immediately. Stand with your hands grasping the back of a sturdy chair or counter and your legs shoulder-width apart. Slowly contract your calves to lift your heels off the floor, raising up onto your toes as far as possible. Carefully lower your heels back to the floor. Complete 10 repetitions several times throughout the day. As your strength improves, try heel lifts using only one leg at a time.
Advanced Heel Lift
This is a very challenging exercise and should only be performed after you are able to use your torn calf muscle without any pain or discomfort. The advanced heel lift is excellent for improving and maintaining strength and flexibility in your calves and may help prevent future injuries to the area. Stand next to a wall with only the balls of your feet resting on the edge of a step or block. Slowly lower your heels until you feel a stretch in your calves. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds then contract your calves to lift your heels until you are high on your toes. Pause here for a moment then carefully lower your heels to repeat the exercise. Begin with only five to 10 repetitions, progressively increasing as your strength and flexibility improve.