Medial Gastrocnemius Strain Overview and Treatment

a middleman gastrocnemius A strain (MGS) is a specific type of injury to the calf muscles at the back of the leg. A strain occurs when a muscle is stretched too far, tearing the tendons and muscle parts of the calf.

This strain is often referred to as a “tennis leg” because it is common among tennis players. Surgery is usually not required, but it will be painful. In fact, people who have experienced it often say it feels like they’ve been kicked or shot in the leg. So as you might guess, it takes a while to recover from stress — at least a month.

This article explains the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of a medial gastrocnemius strain.

Calf muscles

The calf is made up of three main muscles: the medial and lateral gastrocnemius and soleus. They combine to form the Achilles tendon, which attaches to the heel. The most common muscle injury that occurs when a calf strain occurs is the medial gastrocnemius injury.

It is important to determine if the gastrocnemius or soleus is injured so that appropriate treatment can be given and recurrences are prevented.


Symptoms of a medial gastrocnemius strain may include:

  • Decreased flexibility or stiffness
  • Pain in the back of the leg (more on the inside)
  • swollen calf
  • Bruises on the lower leg up to the ankle
  • Popping or popping noises when injured
  • Weakness or complete lack of function
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The symptoms of a calf muscle strain depend on the severity of the injury. Minor injuries, for example, can cause calf tension​​. Serious injuries can cause severe pain or difficulty stretching the lower leg.

Is your calf muscle pain just a strain or something else?


The umbrella term might be “tennis legs,” but calf injuries can occur in almost any sport, especially running and soccer. The gastrocnemius muscle crosses the knee and ankle joints, flexing the foot and leg.

A sudden change of direction while running can overstretch your muscles and cause tears, especially where you flex your ankle and extend your knee at the same time. Injuries can also occur during physically demanding activities of daily life. To help you visualize these possibilities, you can pull a calf muscle in the following situations:

  • sprinting or pushing away with one leg, such as when you’re running to catch a bus or chasing a wayward child
  • Climbing stairs in a hurry
  • Experience a direct blow to the back of your calf
  • trip and twist your legs to compensate for the fall

Is your calf muscle pain just a strain or something else?


Your healthcare provider will hear your injury report and perform a physical examination. Ultrasonography is the best method for confirming gastrocnemius tear and grading the injury.

Other diagnostic tools can also help. For example, if deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in a vein) is suspected, a Doppler ultrasound may be done. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is another option.

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Grade explanation

Calf muscle strains are graded by their severity:

  • Grade 1 is a minor tear, with less than 25% of the muscle fibers affected.
  • Grade 2 is a partial tear, where 25% to 90% of the muscle fibers are torn.
  • Grade 3 is complete rupture.


Treatment of a medial gastrocnemius strain can usually be accomplished with simple steps. Initially, the patient follows the “RICE” protocol:

  • Rest is important. Sometimes people use crutches for a few days or a week to make the most noticeable pain symptoms subside.
  • Ice cubes on the calf muscles can relieve pain, reduce swelling, and reduce inflammation. Ice packs are one of the most useful treatments in the early stages of recovery.
  • Compression can control swelling, support muscles, and reduce spasms. Even simple compression socks or sleeves can work wonders.
  • Raising is a treatment that many people tend to underestimate—until they lower their leg and try to get up, but can’t get up because of the swelling. Raising the calf above the heart is very beneficial for reducing swelling.

It is best not to use heat or massage during the first stage of treatment, as these strategies may increase the risk of bleeding. Once this early treatment phase is over, the patient begins therapeutic activities and gentle stretching exercises tailored to their specific injury.

The typical recovery time for a medial gastrocnemius strain is four to six weeks. You must be able to walk without pain until your doctor allows you to fully resume exercise and movement.


A medial gastrocnemius strain has undoubtedly done something serious. Sudden, shaking, or pulling movements can cause severe pain, swelling, bruising, or weakness in the lower leg. This strain is often referred to as a “tennis leg,” although it can occur while playing other sports or engaging in physical activity, especially running. You may even hear a popping or popping sound the moment the tear occurs. Strains are graded on a scale of 1 to 3 (with 3 being the worst), and treatments are designed accordingly.

VigorTip words

Tennis legs are most common among middle-aged adults, presumably because their muscles tend to be just starting to weaken and therefore more prone to injury. Even if you don’t play tennis, you don’t want to experience tennis legs. This can be surprisingly painful. If you do play tennis, then you might guess that the best “treatment” is prevention. So be sure to warm up before playing. Doing 10 minutes of cardio followed by 10 minutes of stretching should be good for you.