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How do I Relieve Sore Calf Muscles?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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You can sometimes relieve sore calf muscles by using anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Some people find that putting ice packs on the calf muscles can also help. If the sore calf muscle is caused by a pulled or torn muscle, it may be necessary to bandage or splint the calf. Keeping the muscle as immobile as possible will typically result in a decrease in pain. Some herbal remedies may also bring some relief to soreness.

Some of the pain associated with sore calf muscles can be the result of swelling, and anti-inflammatory drugs are usually recommended. Anti-inflammatory medications fall into two categories: steroidal and non-steroidal. Aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen are three common types of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications available without a prescription. Steroids used for swelling should be doctor-prescribed and might include cortisone and prednisone. Though steroids are sometimes given in pill form, in cases where severe swelling is present, steroids are often injected.

If you decide to try ice to help with sore calf muscles, it is recommended that you wrap the ice in plastic or cloth. Ice applied directly to the skin can cause adverse effects such as burning or chafing. Ice packs can be purchased at most drug stores and provide a safe and effective means of application. Ice typically relieves pain in two ways: by numbing the affected area and by helping to reduce swelling. It usually takes about 20 minutes to get any effect from the ice pack, and during this time, the leg should ideally be elevated.

You might also decide to try stretching exercises. If done carefully and properly, some light stretches can sometimes help relieve sore calf muscles. Stretching generally increases blood flow to the muscle, which can make it heal faster. Care should be taken when exercising the muscle in any way. If the exercise is too intense, or performed too quickly, it can make matters worse.

Some herbal remedies that are believed to help with muscle pain are ginger and cat’s claw. Both of these have been studied extensively to determine their effects on inflammation. Most research seems to suggest that their impact can sometimes be significant. Cat’s claw and ginger have both been used for centuries for a variety of ailments, including pain and swelling.

The sooner the muscle heals, the sooner the pain will be gone, and nutrition can play an important role in healing. You should try to add foods that are rich in fatty acids to your diet, such as fish or olive oil. You can also add fatty acids to your diet by taking a daily supplement.

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Discussion Comments
By Cageybird — On Mar 19, 2014

If the pain is bad enough, I'll go to a masseuse for a professional rubdown. I am prone to nighttime leg cramps, and massage seems to help. One thing I'd caution people about using is sport creme with heat. Be sure you get the right brand. Most of the regular or extra strength cremes are good, but there are a few that generate way too much heat. It can feel like a chemical burn.

By Ruggercat68 — On Mar 18, 2014

There are times when I think heat works better than ice on a sore calf muscle. I'll soak my leg in a hot bath or wrap hot compresses around the calf muscle. Sometimes my leg will develop a charley horse cramp if I put ice on it. It depends if my calf is sore from exercise or from bruising. I'll use heat for exercise-related pain and ice for trauma-related pain.

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