A calf strain, or a pulled calf muscle, occurs when there is a partial tear in one or more of the small fibers that make up your calf muscle. The calf muscles are a group of two muscles, gastrocnemius or soleus, located in the back of your lower leg that stretch from your knee to your Achilles tendon – a muscle tear in either of these muscles is considered a pulled calf muscle.
Your calf muscles are responsible for elevating your heels (or standing on your toes.) They are vital in helping you in every aspect of getting around, including walking, running, and even just standing still. A pulled calf muscle is tough to ignore, and has the potential to put you out of action for awhile.
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Most commonly, muscle strains and tears of all types occur because of what is called an eccentric contraction. Imagine tensing your calf while at the same time it is being forced in the opposite direction by some outside force or resistance. When the outside force battles against the inside force, tears in the fibers of your muscles can result causing a torn calf muscle.
Mild to severe calf muscle strains are extremely common in all sports that involve quick acceleration, jumping, or sudden changes in direction, such as:
- track and field events
- field hockey
For more information on the causes and symptoms of a pulled calf muscle, visit the Pulled Calf Muscle Symptoms page.