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Pulled a Calf Muscle?


Calf muscle strains are a chronic condition. Ultimately you have continuous tearing that leads to more and more strain until eventually you are left with a completely torn muscle – similar to a rope giving out. Now, if you are an athlete or anyone who relies on their toes, having a calf muscle strain can seriously hinder your game.

Since calf muscle strains only worsen with time, it’s essential to get treatment right away. Physiotherapy can help because not only will it provide strengthening and stretching workouts, but also address compensatory habits which may have led up to your injury in the first place. Prevention and recovery, it’s what physiotherapy is all about.

Get Help with the pt Health Calf Strain Recovery Program

  • Our Program provides effective treatments and therapeutic approaches designed to relieve and ease your calf pain.
  • Offers preventative strategies to help you deal with lifestyle, work, and other risk factors.
  • Addresses the root cause calf pain as well as the symptoms.
  • Prescribes appropriate stretches, strengthening exercises, and movements that you can do at home to encourage continuous improvement and progress.
  • Does not involve medication or painkillers.
  • Actively involves you in your own recovery.
  • Is covered by most extended health plans.
  • Starts quickly with next day appointment availability.

Calf Muscle Strain Causes

You might be running up the stairs or sliding into home base when suddenly you feel a sharp pain descend along your calf muscle. Outwardly, you reach down to sooth the muscle, while internally your muscle is suffering from micro tearing of the muscle fibers. At this point, you have now suffered a calf muscle strain. The pain itself affects the back of the lower leg, and is typically due to overuse, poor foot mechanics, or a direct blow to the lower leg.

However, this condition is typically seen in athletes – especially those sports where quick bursts are required.

Calf Muscle Strain Symptoms

Initially, symptoms include sharp pain in the calf especially when pushing off with the toes or going up on the toes. You may also experience:

  • Pain when the calf muscle is stretched
  • Calf muscle weakness
  • Tender to touch
  • Minimal swelling

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Treatment Plan


We Assess Your Condition

If you consistently suffer from a calf muscle strain, physiotherapy is essential to resuming your normal gait patterns while strengthening the calf muscle so you can leap, lunge, and slide no matter what your sport is. Try to recover on your own however and you could risk further muscle strain and an increased chance of compensatory walking patterns.

When you first visit pt Health for your calf muscle strain, your physiotherapist will conduct an initial assessment to ensure other no other muscles group are affected by your injury. To start they may observe your toe and heel stand, followed by a: walking analysis, gait scan, range of motion assessment, foot and ankle strength testing, foot and ankle joint evaluation, and a check for muscle tone and tenderness.

Pain Management:

Following the assessment it’s time to manage your pain and swelling in which your therapist may use the following modalities:

  • Massage techniques to soothe the calf muscle
  • Ultrasound
  • Acupuncture
  • IFC, ice or heat

Exercise Increases Your Strength

Exercise is essential to your calf muscle strain recovery and will be introduced once your physiotherapist deems your rehabilitation is progressing. Examples of certain exercises which help heal calf muscle strain include stressing your ankle, and strengthening exercises using elastic tubing, toe raises, and single leg balances.

How long does the Recovery Period Last?

Overall, you can expect to visit your physiotherapist up to three times per week during the beginning stages of treatment. Total recovery time to last between four to six weeks pending injury severity and patient compliance.

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  Bekky’s Story

Getting Back in the Game

Becky, a softball standout on her high school’s varsity team was hopeful for a sports scholarship and couldn’t afford to be out of the game. But that’s exactly what happened half way through the season during her senior year.

The game was tied as Becky lunged from second base on her way to third. She didn’t have time to lose and wanted to make it all the way to home plate. But she pushed off her right toes and before she knew it she was limping instead of sliding into home plate. The catcher tagged her back, and she was out. It was up to the next runner to tie to the game.

“When you play softball, you have to expect injuries to happen. Usually, someone gets hit with the ball at bat. So straining my calf muscle was the last thing I expected when leaving from third base that day.”

Sharp Pain minus the Swelling

Becky’s coach pulled her from the game so she could ice her calf muscle. There wasn’t any swelling and Becky took it as good sign she would be ready to play tomorrow’s game. But once she got up from the dugout, and made it to the stands where her parents were waiting, she wondered at the sharp pain and spasms still plaguing her right calf.

“I figured I had strained my calf muscle, but that it was no big deal. I would go home and continue to ice the area, and be back in the game the next day,” said Becky.

Except, when Becky went to school the next day the pain was still there.

“I wasn’t about to let coach know my leg still hurt,” said Becky. “Missing the game wasn’t an option.” But her coach could tell she wasn’t walking normally when she showed up for the team’s warm up. Instead of getting to play the game, Coach suggested Becky go the physiotherapist to see how bad her injury could be.

Pt Health Physiotherapy Helped Becky’s Strained Calf Muscle

The high school had a sports trainer, but not a trained physiotherapist, so Becky’s mom brought her to pt Health, where her therapist confirmed her calf muscle strain diagnosis.

“I had Becky get up on her toes and heels, and looked at her walk across the room. I also had her balance on one foot and then the other. Upon feeling her calf, I was able to sense the muscle tone and check for tenderness. “

The good news was Becky had only strained and not torn her calf muscle. The bad news was it would take about four weeks before she was back playing softball. “I encouraged Becky to ease up on her softball training so we could control her injury. The last thing we wanted was for her to suffer more injuries because her gait pattern was off,” said Jennifer.

While at pt Health, Becky worked on regaining her strength and returning to her pre-injury self so she could get back to scoring those runs for the team.

“Becky followed the pt Health Calf Muscle Strain Recovery Program, and as a result was back to playing softball in only a month. If she had continued playing on her injury, it’s likely she could have torn the calf muscle and been out of softball for the remainder of the season,” said Jennifer.

Instead, Becky was back to playing with some grit and determination as always. She is hopeful for that scholarship after all.

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Coverage Options


At pt Health, we know that sorting out insurance paperwork can be time-consuming and confusing. We want your focus to be on getting well and staying well. With that in mind, we do our best to help you navigate through the necessary forms. We speak with your insurance providers and we’ll answer any questions you may have about your coverage.

pt Health services are covered by most health care insurance plans. In most cases, if you are using your extended health care carrier or work plan, we do not require you to pay for your therapy sessions up front.* Instead, we bill your insurance company on your behalf.
If you have extended health care benefits that cover therapy, most auto insurance companies require that your claim be placed through your extended health plan first. Any remaining balances for services are then covered by your auto insurance plan. On your first visit, you may be asked to provide information about your extended health plan. If you do not have extended health care benefits that cover therapy, your treatments may be billed directly through your auto insurance company. For residents of British Columbia, ICBC covers a partial amount of treatment visits. Patients will be asked to co-pay the difference at each visit. If a patient has extended health care benefits, it is possible to claim the difference back.

Although each clinic’s approach to intake, assessment and therapy do vary, generally speaking your physiotherapist will ask a series of questions that will help better describe all of your symptoms in detail. Your physiotherapist can then carry out your assessment. The physiotherapist will examine you physically and discuss the findings, the cause of the problem, and suggest a solution that can effectively treat your health problem.
OHIP covered physiotherapy services must be provided by a designated OHIP physiotherapy clinic. OHIP covers physiotherapy treatments, but does not cover the cost of an initial assessment. To qualify for OHIP coverage, you must have a medial doctor’s referral, be 19 years or younger, be 65 years or older, or be receiving benefits under the Ontario Disability Support Program or Family Works. If you have been admitted overnight in hospital for a condition that now requires physiotherapy, you are also eligible.
Some pt Health clinics will be able to bill Blue Cross direction for physiotherapy and massage therapy treatments if you are a member of:

  • RCMP
  • DND
  • Canadian Forces
  • Veterans Affairs

For any treatments that are only partially covered, you may be asked to co-pay the difference at each visit.

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