Calf muscles are the muscles located at the back side of the legs from the area right behind the knees and reaching the ankles. Although walking is one of the best exercises, it can cause pain and swelling in the calf muscles in some cases. People having a previous injury may often experience pain and complain of swollen calf muscles after walking. Pain and swelling in calf muscles can either be limited to a small area or the entire calf region.
The calf muscles are mainly formed of 2 muscles, namely the soleus and gastrocnemius. While the soleus is a small muscle which attaches beneath the joint of the knee right till the heels, the gastrocnemius is the larger one running from above the knees to the heels. These muscles can get strained, injured or affected in some way, resulting in painful and swollen calf muscles after walking.
The main symptom, with this kind of complaint is the pain and swelling of the calf muscles. Another important symptom of swollen calf muscles may include bruising and aching of the muscles. This is more commonly seen after an injury and it usually indicates a minor tear in the calf muscles. Sometimes, sharp pain can be felt along with swelling of calf muscles. As the symptoms of swollen calf muscles can vary it is important to study them in detail to be able to diagnose the problem accurately and plan an effective treatment. It is also important to understand the causes and risk factors of swollen calf muscles.
Causes of Swollen Calf Muscles After Walking
It is important to analyze the cause of the swelling in calf muscles after walking. Some of the main causes of swollen calf muscles after walking include:
Lack of Stretching Can Cause Swollen Calf Muscles
Lack of stretching is a common cause of swollen calf muscles. Stretching is an essential part of any workout, aerobics or any exercise. Warming up and stretching the body before a walk and cooling it down after the walk is over, is an integral part of any regime. Stretching helps the body to get active for the workout and relax after it. If you fail to stretch your body, especially the legs, after a good walk, chances are that the calf muscles will not only swell but also pain immensely.
Dehydration Can Cause Swelling of Calf Muscles After Walking
Another common cause for calf muscles being swollen is dehydration. If you do not drink enough water every day, the muscles feel tight and stressed and can cause swelling. It is also important to remember that you sweat liquids while walking so that too needs to be replenished continuously. As the calf muscles play a major role in walking, not consuming enough water can cause swelling in the calf muscles after walking. Keeping the body well hydrated is the best way to prevent swollen calf muscles.
High Intensity Walking Can Cause Calf Muscles to Swell
This is another important cause of swollen calf muscles after walking. A person, who is walking at a good pace, may try to increase the intensity of the walking program to get better results. However, drastic changes and increased intensity of walking can lead to swelling in the calf as the muscles can get strained. High intensity walking mainly done during brisk walking can result in painful and swollen calf muscles. It is recommended to maintain a comfortable walking pace and make any changes in the walking intensity very gradually.
Torn Muscle Can Cause Swelling of Calf Muscles
Sometimes the calf muscles get strained due to overuse, resulting in a muscle tear which not only swells up the area but also makes it tender to touch. Muscle strain, causing swelling in calf muscles can result in calf muscles, which are slightly swollen to severely swollen with considerable pain.
In cases, where there is noticeable muscle strain, injury to the leg or when the calf muscle swelling and pain is immense, it is better to seek medical opinion at the earliest.
Home Remedies For Swollen Calf Muscles
Anti-inflammatory medicines are usually given to reduce pain and swelling in the calf after walking. Some people however, benefit to a great extent from home remedies.
Some Effective Home Remedies For Swollen Calf Muscles Include:
Take Rest – This is one of the best and simplest remedies for swollen calf muscles after walking. Stop your walking regime for a few days if the calf muscles swell up and take rest. Also, try to move around the house as less as possible and avoid picking up heavy objects as well. This will allow the swollen calf muscles to relax and heal. However do not stop movement completely and walk for a few minutes within the house every day, to keep them active.
Apply an Ice Pack – An ice pack is often advised to reduce swelling and pain in swollen calf muscles, which not only minimizes the symptoms but also relaxes the entire area. If you do not have an ice pack at home, simply take 3 to 4 pieces of big sized ice cubes, wrap them in a clean and soft cotton cloth and apply on the calf muscles for 10 minutes to get instant relief.
Bandage the Calf Muscles – You can bandage the calf muscles with a cotton cloth as this will prevent any more swelling from taking place and also give rest to the swollen area. Make sure to take off the bandage when you sleep at night or there might be a blood clot. Compression is an effective way to manage swollen calf muscles after walking.
Elevate Legs when Asleep – This is a great home remedy for swollen calf muscles. When sleeping at night, simply elevate both the legs by placing 2 pillows under each leg. This will help increase blood circulation in the area and give a lot of rest to the calf muscles thereby decreasing the swelling and the pain.
Massage – For minor muscles strains causing calf swelling, massage can be a great home remedy. Get the swollen area massaged by an expert, which can help to stretch the muscle, promote healing, improve flow of blood, prevent formation of scar tissues and also allow the muscles to relax. Use olive or coconut oil for best and quick results.
Exercise – Muscle strengthening exercises which can be practiced in the comfort of your home help start gentle movement and reduce the stiffness in the area. Muscles strengthening is very effective for swollen calf muscles after walking. It is advisable to consult your physician or physical therapist before starting them. Stop exercising if you feel any kind of pain.
Some exercises include
- Move ankle up and down and in rotations.
- Stand straight and take support as required. Now slowly raise your heels as much as you can. When done, go down to the original position slowly.
These exercises will stretch the calf muscles, relax them and reduce swelling.
Avoid Excess Salt – Too much salt in the body enhances water retention and this can increase the swelling. Reduce salt intake in food and also avoid coffee, which contains caffeine, when suffering from swollen calf muscles. This is an easy-to-follow home remedy for swollen calf muscles.
Bathe with Essential Oils – This is a popular home remedy for swollen calf muscles after walking. Essential oils such as lemon, lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus help to reduce pain and also eliminate the discomfort in the body. Pour 3 to 4 drops of your favorite essential oil in your bathing water and relax in this water for 15 to 20 minutes. This will soothe the muscles and reduce swelling immensely.
Apply Turmeric – Turmeric boasts of a compound named curcumin which prevents or fights inflammation, swelling and pain. Mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder with some olive oil to form a thick paste. Apply on the calf muscles and rub slightly. Rinse off with warm water after 25 to 30 minutes. Repeat twice every day for a week.
It is quite common to experience swollen calf muscles after walking and there are several factors that can cause inflammation of muscles in this area. When suffering from such a swelling, a person is unable to move around normally, lift heavy objects and is bound to feel discomfort and pain in the affected area.
Many people may not be able to take painkillers and other medicines due to the side effects associated with them. Home remedies for swollen calf muscles are just good enough to reduce the pain and swelling in the calf muscles. Taking appropriate care when walking, strengthening the muscles and maintaining a comfortable pace is essential.