Dealing with a torn gastrocnemius muscle

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A torn gastrocnemius muscle is an injury to the back of the calf area of the leg. The gastrocnemius muscle is a strong superficial muscle found at the back of the lower leg and used for walking, standing, jumping and running.

It is a common injury in sports that requires quick acceleration from a stationary position and rapid stops in movement such as in tennis or squash. The injury is the result of sudden unusual overstretching where the muscle is contracted but lengthened forcefully and quickly.

Pain and swelling or bruising in the calf muscle.

Symptoms of a torn gastrocnemius muscle

  • Pain and swelling or bruising in the calf muscle
  • Sudden pain at the back of the leg especially at the muscular tendinous junction.
  • Pain when resisting plantar flexion or contracting the muscles against resistance.
  • Difficuty in contracting the muscles or when standing on a tiptoe.
  • Pain in the lower leg and when contracting the muscles against resistance when bending the knees.


  • Take plenty of bed rest. Avoid putting weight on the affected gastrocnemius muscles during the first 48 hours for fast healing of the condition.
  • Apply a cold pack immediately on the affected area to lessen the pain and inflammation. Put some ice cubes in a plastic bag and wrap it using a towel before placing on the area to prevent further damage. Ice packs can be applied to the area at least 8 times every day until the swelling and inflammation subsides.
  • Take aspirin or ibuprofen to lessen the pain in the leg.
  • Wear a compression bandage on the affected muscle. Avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent problems with circulations. Another alternative is using a cane or crutches to support the area and relieve weight on the area.
  • Perform rehabilitation exercises with the help of a physical therapist for gentle stretching and restoring the range of motion of the area. Apply hot packs on the affected muscle before starting the exercises.


  • Proper conditioning of the calf muscles must be done so they can absorb energy from sudden physical stress.
  • Stretch the calf muscle before any physical activity.
  • Performing proper techniques for exercises and sports activities to lessen the stress on the calf and other muscles.
  • Proper training prior to competition to be conditioned for the activity.
  • Wear the right protective equipment and footwear.
  • Adequate water intake before, during and after activity
  • Avoid performing activities that causes pain.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on a torn gastrocnemius muscle is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage muscle injuries by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.

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