Lower Calf Pain

Here are the major causes of pain in lower calf muscle.
Smita Pandit Jun 18, 2019
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Various leg movements are facilitated by the calf muscles located in posterior section of lower leg. Gastrocnemius and soleus muscles are calf muscles that insert into the heel bone through the Achilles tendon. Gastrocnemius, which is bigger in size, attaches above the knee and helps flex the leg at the knee, while soleus is located beneath gastrocnemius.
Gastrocnemius helps us to bring our body forward while we walk or run. Gastrocnemius works in conjunction with soleus and helps our body to maintain balance while we stand or perform other leg movements such walking, running, or jumping. If any of these muscles get strained, one's mobility gets adversely affected.
A calf muscle strain is one of the common causes of pain in lower calf muscle, but there could be other contributory factors as well. Running, sprinting, and various activities can put strain on the muscles of the lower leg, which is why sports persons are extremely susceptible to tightness and pain in calf muscles.
Though one might be able to recover quickly from a mild calf muscle strain, an injury that causes the calf muscles to rupture will give rise to distressing symptoms.

Contributing Factors

For the muscle to contract and facilitate body movements, energy is required. The cells of the body require oxygen in order to provide energy for muscle contraction. In case of aerobic respiration, the cells have enough oxygen supply. On the other hand, cell respiration is anaerobic when oxygen is not available.
In case of anaerobic respiration, less energy is produced in comparison to aerobic respiration. Moreover, lactic acid is produced, which induces muscle fatigue and pain. During high-intensity workouts, the body works very hard, as oxygen supply for energy consumption is less.
During this time, anaerobic respiration occurs. This is the reason why the muscles feel tired after intense workouts.

Pulled Calf Muscle

A pulled calf muscle is most likely to cause pain in the posterior section of lower legs. Those who play sports that involve substantial leg movement in the form of running, sprinting, and jumping are definitely at a great risk of experiencing strained calf muscles.
It is also important to perform warm up exercises before indulging in sports or any strenuous activity. Warming up helps the body prepare itself for the increased muscle activity, and those who don't follow a warm-up routine are likely to experience pain and muscle fatigue.

Wearing Ill-fitting Footwear

Many a time, muscles in the lower leg might get strained due to wearing shoes that don't fit perfectly. This is the reason why women who wear high-heeled shoes are likely to experience pain in the legs.
If you go for jogging everyday, make sure that you buy running shoes that are properly cushioned and facilitate shock absorption. If your shoes are not well-equipped with cushioning and don't provide proper support to the ankle, the stress on muscles, ligaments, or tendons might increase and give rise to calf pain.

Achilles Tendonitis

Since the calf muscles attach to the heel bone through the Achilles tendon, the pain around ankles and calf muscles could arise due to inflammation of this tendon. Overzealous running could stretch the muscles beyond normal limits and cause sore calf muscles.
Strained leg muscles due to repeated stress, running on uneven surfaces, or wearing improper shoes could cause an inflammation of the tendon. People with flat feet are also more susceptible to Achilles tendonitis.

Blood Circulation

Various parts of the body need oxygenated blood to be able to perform their functions. If the supply of blood is cut off, then serious problems can arise. At times, formation of blood clots in the deep veins in the lower leg can block the supply of blood. This condition is medically referred to as deep vein thrombosis.
Pain, tenderness, and swelling in the affected leg are some of the common symptoms that might arise due to this condition. Other peripheral vascular diseases such as venous or arterial insufficiency could also affect the blood circulation and cause pain in lower calf muscles.

Nutritional Deficiency

Pain in the lower calf muscles could occur due to the deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals. Tight calf muscles or cramps in the lower legs might be caused due to the deficiency of nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, and phosphorus. Inadequate intake of water might also be responsible for pain in the calf muscles.

Treatment

An injury might cause development of tears in the calf muscles, and lead to calf muscle strain. So, if you have been experiencing pain in the back portion of the lower leg after running or while walking, consult a doctor immediately. An X-ray examination will help the doctors determine the extent of damage to the structures present in the lower leg. 
Since repetitive stress injuries are common cause of calf pain, one must take rest. RICE approach is often followed for treating muscle strains. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Application of ice and the use of compression bandages can help in alleviating the pain. Keeping the legs elevated will also help in reducing the swelling. 
Doctors might also prescribe painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs. If the pain is too severe, steroid injections might be prescribed. Going for massage or physiotherapy sessions might also prove beneficial.
Besides repetitive stress injuries, calf pain could also arise from use of an improper running technique, use of ill-fitting footwear, or over-stretching of muscles without warming up.
So, make sure that you don't do anything that stretches the muscles beyond their limits. Prepare your muscles with warm-up sessions and give your body proper rest to recuperate from the effects of increased muscle activity as well.
Disclaimer: The information provided is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.