Medial Gastrocnemius Strain

A strain is the stretching or tearing of a muscle fibre or tendon (tissue that connects muscle to bone).A medial gastrocnemius strain or MGS is an injury to the calf muscle in the back of the leg.

The medial and lateral gastrocnemius and the soleus muscle are the three major muscles that make up the calf muscle. Injury to the medial gastrocnemius muscle is the most commonly injured muscle when a calf strain occurs.


Medial gastrocnemius strains occur most commonly in people participating in sports such as running, soccer and tennis. A medial gastrocnemius strain is also referred to as “tennis leg”. It can also occur due to everyday, physically demanding activities.


The symptoms of a medial gastrocnemius strain include:

  • Leg pain which is felt more on the inner side of the back of the leg
  • Calf muscle swelling
  • Calf muscle bruising down to the ankle
  • At the moment of the injury there may be a popping sound


Your doctor diagnoses a medial gastrocnemius strain by performing a physical examination. Ultrasound can rule out other possibilities and help confirm the diagnosis. A Doppler ultrasound or a MRI may be ordered if deep venous thrombosis (DVT) is suspected.


Initial treatment aims at relieving pain and swelling. RICE protocol should be followed for mild to moderate strains. It includes:

  • R-Rest: Avoid performing activities that cause pain. You should use crutches for the first few days after injury.
  • I-Ice: Gently apply ice to the area to decrease swelling, pain and inflammation.
  • C-Compression: Wrap a simple compression sock or sleeve over the area to help decrease swelling and reduce spasm.
  • E-Elevation: Elevate the leg so that the injured area is above heart level. This helps in easing the swelling.

Medications may also be prescribed to reduce swelling and pain. In the initial days, your doctor may ask you to not use heat or massage as these may increase the risk of haemorrhage. During this period, simple stretching exercises can be done to regain muscle strength.

Related Topics

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