Our Calf strain treatment & rehabilitation program consists of four phases. It has been created by elite-level Sports Physiotherapist Phil Pask based on what he would do with the England international rugby team but adapted for use by anyone.
The program is criteria based so you start at the beginning of phase 1 and only progress on to the next phase if you reach the specific exit criteria for that phase.
We recommend seeking professional advice if you are unsure before attempting any rehabilitation exercises.
Phil is one of the World’s most experienced Sports Physiotherapists having been England Senior Rugby Team Physiotherapist for 20 years.
Who is this Calf strain treatment program suitable for?
It is suitable for anyone who has a mild to moderate grade 1 or 2 Calf strain. If you are not sure how bad your injury is then see our Calf strain diagnosis article and seek professional advice from your doctor or physio.
Our Calf strain treatment & rehabilitation consists of four phases. In order to progress to the next phase you must reach specific ‘exit criteria’. So whatever type of injury you have, you begin at phase 1 and work through each phase.
If your injury is severe and recent then you may be on phase 1 for a couple of weeks. If your injury is mild or you have been resting for a few days you may progress more quickly.
Phase 1 Calf strain treatment
Phase 1 begins as soon as possible after injury and can last anywhere from 48 hours to two weeks or more depending on how bad your injury is. The aim in phase 1 is to reduce pain, inflammation and swelling as well as protect your injured muscle from further injury.
Apply a cold therapy compression wrap as soon as possible after injury for 20 minutes, every couple of hours if possible. Reduce frequency to 3 to 4 times per day as your symptoms improve.
Complete rest for at least 2 to 3 days for a grade 1 injury. If you have suffered a grade 2 or grade 3 calf strain then you may need to completely rest for a couple of weeks or more. Use crutches if necessary.
Do not apply massage during phase 1. You just need to let your injury heal. Massage prevents it from healing and may increase bleeding within the muscle. The same applies to using a foam roller.
Phase 2 Calf strain treatment
The aim of phase 2 Calf strain treatment is to get to a stage where your muscle is strong enough to do functional loading, without risk of re-injury. It consists of 18 tasks or exercises.
- Hot & cold therapy
- Foam roller
- Stretching & mobility exercises x 3
- Specific strengthening exercises x 3
- Posterior chain strengthening x 2
- Movement control exercises x 3
- Functional exercises x 4
Phase 3 Calf strain treatment
The aim of phase 3 is to strengthen your calf muscles sufficiently to safely progress through dynamic and more explosive exercises. Phase 3 comprises 26 tasks/exercises.
Phase 4 Calf strain treatment
This is the end stage where we focus even more on sports-specific type exercises with higher, more unpredictable loads. It comprises 19 more advanced exercises and running progressions.