The calf is comprised of two muscles — the gastrocnemius and the soleus. These muscles meet at the Achilles tendon, which attaches directly to the heel.
Calf pain varies from person to person, depending on the source of pain, and can vary in nature. For some people, calf pain feels like a dull, aching, or sharp pain in the back of the lower leg, sometimes with tightness.
Symptoms that might indicate a more severe condition include:
- unusual coolness or pale color in the calf
- tingling or numbness in the calf and leg
- weakness in the leg that comes on suddenly
- fluid retention
- redness, warmth, and tenderness of the calf
- Muscle cramp
Muscle cramps are sudden, painful contractions of muscles. They can last for a few seconds or several minutes at a time.
Cramps can be caused by dehydration, exercise, injuries, and mineral deficiencies.
- Muscle strain
Muscle strains usually occur due to fatigue, overuse, or improper use of a muscle. For example, starting a new exercise regimen or increasing exercises involving the legs can strain your calf muscle. This may include exercises like:
- You’ll usually feel a muscle strain as it occurs and notice the sudden onset of pain, soreness, and limited range of movement.
- Achilles tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis is caused by overuse, strain, or stress on the Achilles tendon, which connects the plantaris, gastrocnemius, and soleus muscles in the back of the ankle. Common symptoms can include:
- inflammation of the tendon
- stiffness in the back of the leg
- Simple home treatments can help. These may include:
- reducing activity levels
- Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is a form of nerve damage that can affect the:
This condition is a common complication of diabetes. It can result from having high blood sugar for an extended period of time. This can result in nerve inflammation and damage. Genetic factors may also play a role.
Deep vein thrombosis
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is the result of a blood clot forming in the deep vein in the arm or leg, including the calf. Multiple factors and conditions can cause DVT. These may include:
- personal or family history of DVT
- being overweight / obesity
- complications from other conditions
- Symptoms of DVT can includeTrusted Source:
- visible veins in the affected area
- swelling in the foot, ankle, or leg
- leg pain or tenderness
- skin discoloration
- the vein gets firm or thickens
- the affected area of skin feeling warmer to the touch than the surrounding area
- the affected area turning pale, reddish, or bluish depending on skin tone
Here are a few tips that can help prevent calf pain:
Mobility work: Keeping your ankle and calf muscle mobile through exercises such as stretching or moving a joint through its full range of motion may help prevent calf pain.
Rest: Resting from physical activity between workouts can help facilitate muscle repair and growth.
Warm-up/cool-down: Incorporate a warm-up before working out and a cool-down after to loosen the muscles and prevent future injury.
Proper shoes: Ensure that the shoes you wear during exercise provide enough SUPPORT, especially if you run or jog for exercise.
Stay hydrated: Staying hydrated can help prevent calf pain. This is because dehydration directly contributes to muscle cramps.
Gradually increase exercise: If you’re new to a specific exercise or you’re increasing the intensity of your workout, try to do it gradually. Increasing your activity level too abruptly can cause injury.