Torn / Ruptured Calf Muscle Symptoms

Torn Calf Muscle Symptoms


– sudden, sharp, severe pain in the back of the Calf Muscle.


– with a ruptured calf muscle you are unable to put the heel down properly.


– swollen calf muscle – the back of the leg will swell very quickly.


– bruising with a ruptured calf muscle will appear within a few days and may be quite extensive.

Injured Calf Muscle

Calf muscles injuries are classified as Strains which range from a grade1 to grade 3.

Torn or ruptured calf muscles are grade 2 or grade 3 strains.

Grade 3 strains are total ruptures of the muscle away from the tendon. They are very severe and generally require surgery.

Grade 2 strains are partial tears and affect only a variable percentage of the muscle fibres.

Ruptured Calf Muscle

Torn / Ruptured Calf Muscle

This has become known as “Tennis Leg”.

A partial Gastroc / Gastrocnemius tear (Grade 2 Strain)

most frequently happens in the medial (inner) belly of the Gastrocnemius muscle (Red Star in diagram)

They can also happen at the musculo-tendinous junction (Green Star).

Grade 3 strains – totally ruptured Calf muscles happen at the musculo-tendinous junction (Green Star) where the muscle joins to the tendon.

A torn / ruptured calf muscle typically happens when an athlete attempts to push off or accelerate when the knee is still moving forward or the ankle is dorsiflexed.

As explained in Function of the Achilles Heel Tendon the calf muscles act together to stiffen the ankle and subtalar joints.
This stiffening allows the tendons to recoil and release their stored energy which provides propulsion.

Gastrocnemius simultaneously plantarflexes the ankle, flexes the knee and supinates the Subtalar joint – so perhaps you can understand why any sudden increased demand on the muscle in a slightly unfavourable position leads to a calf muscle tear.

Soleus Muscle Rupture

In the diagram above the Soleus Muscle is the yellow muscle nearest the Tibia. It lies deep to Gastrocnemius muscle.
Soleus Muscle Ruptures are rare (less than 1% of calf injuries) and this muscle tends to suffer from milder strains.

Plantaris Muscle / Tendon Rupture

Plantaris Muscle Rupture has been found in around 2% of calf injuries. The tear can be full or partial.
Plantaris is a small muscle that run obliquely across the back of the leg.
The upper end joins to the Femur on the outside of the knee just above the lateral head of Gastrocnemius.
The bottom attachment is to the inner (medial) side of the Calcaneum beside the Achilles Tendon.
For a fuller description see Plantaris Tendon Rupture

Torn Calf Muscle Recovery Time

The pulled / torn calf muscle recovery time depends on several factors.
How severe the initial damage was – the greater the number of fibres damaged the longer it will take to get the muscle rehabilitated back to full function.
How well the injury was dealt with initially – good treatment at the outset will prevent bleeding and minimise scarring.
How quickly the injury was mobilised – not using the muscle for a prolonged period can lead to less efficient scarring.
When stretching was started – you want a long muscle not a shortened one.

See Treatment for Torn Calf Muscle

Grade 2 strain will take at least 2-4 weeks to get better.
Grade 3 strain allow 5-6 months after the surgery.

Ian Constable (73 Posts)