A calf muscle strain can be a debilitating injury, especially when participating in athletic activities. While the injury itself is usually considered a minor one, it can still be painful and take quite a while to heal properly. You will need to spend plenty of time off your feet to allow the muscle to heal, which can put a damper on both athletic activities and day to day activities. To prevent a calf muscle strain, you should be sure to condition the calf muscles properly before participating in any athletic events. A regular routine of stretching and exercise is the best way to prevent a calf muscle strain.
The weaker muscles get, the more likely they are to tire quickly. When muscles tire, they tend to tense up. This means that the calf muscle is more likely to strain during physical activity. A calf muscle strain occurs when the muscles in the calf stretch beyond their means, and the small fibers that make up the muscles begin to tear. Tight calf muscles are therefore much more likely to strain and tear, which means that weak muscles that tire easily are subsequently more likely to strain and tear. Calf exercises and stretches can help strengthen the muscles and prevent strains.
An exercise routine that prevents a calf muscle strain will include plenty of calf stretching. Your local gym or fitness center will have machines specifically designed to stretch the calf, but calf stretches can be done quickly and easily at home or in the office as well. All you need is a raised surface such as a stair step. Stand on the edge of the step and let the heels hang down. This will stretch the calves, but be sure to hang onto a hand rail to ensure balance. A wall can also be used for calf stretches; simply press the toes against the wall and lean forward.
Calf exercises can help prevent a calf muscle strain. These can again be done at the gym using specific equipment designed to work the calf muscles, but other exercises can be done on that stair step you used for the stretches. When hanging the heels off the edge of the step, instead of just letting the heels hang, use the calf muscles to pull the heels upward so all of your body's weight is on the balls of the feet. Hold the position, then return to the start position. Do this several times to strengthen the muscles of the calves.