Pre-season strengthening; keep calves strong and improve flexibility

Aug 9, 2019

How to treat a calf strain

With the football season hotting up, we thought we would share some tips to help prevent injury and exercises to strengthen calves and improve flexibility.

We see a lot of people with calf strains in our clinics; runners, ramblers, football, rugby and tennis players, skiers, those with physical jobs plus many more suffer from this problem.

Most footballers come to the clinic with a clear history of running/changing direction and they have such severe pain and tearing sensation that they report they turn to see who has shot them in the back of the leg as that is what it feels like.

The calf has two main large muscles: the gastrocnemius, the large muscle closest to the surface, and the soleus, the deeper muscle which sits behind the gastrocnemius. There is also a smaller muscle called plantaris.

A calf strain is a tear in the muscle at the back of your lower leg. Both of these muscles join onto your Achilles tendon which then attaches to the back of the heel. The most commonly strained calf muscle is gastrocnemius as it is more vulnerable because it crosses both the knee and ankle joints.


Here are some exercises you can do if you are feeling tightness or aching in your calves after playing football or training.

You may also find our blogs helpful on what to do in the early stages after a calf strain, or rehab exercises to do as the muscle is healing, usually from 4 weeks onwards.

Please be aware of your body and take advice from your GP before exercising or send an email to for advice and guidance.

Please do subscribe to our Physio-logical YouTube channel for more self help exercises and advice.

If you are suffering from calf pain and want to find a Physio or Sports Therapist near you, then we have physiotherapy, sports therapy and sports massage clinics in Havant and Rowlands Castle, Hampshire.

Get help

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