What are the Most Common Causes of a Lower Leg Muscle Strain?

Dan Cavallari

A lower leg muscle strain is a specific injury that is sometimes misunderstood and confused with different injuries. A muscle strain occurs when the tiny fibers that make up a muscle begin to tear, causing pain, tenderness, or soreness in that muscle. This commonly occurs in the lower leg, and in some cases, a lower leg muscle strain may be debilitating, while in minor cases it may not require the sufferer to cease physical activity at all. Common causes of a lower leg muscle strain include overtraining or overusing the muscles, enduring a direct trauma to the muscle, improper footwear, and a lack of proper conditioning.

A man with a strained calf.
A man with a strained calf.

Athletic activities most commonly lead to lower leg muscle strain occurrences, and in many cases, poor conditioning is a factor in the injury. The muscle can absorb as much impact and use as it is designed to do, but once the muscle must bear more force or continue to work beyond its means, a lower leg muscle strain is likely to occur. Athletes often use their muscles to the point of exhaustion or beyond, leading to muscle strains, but a person does not necessarily need to be an athlete to incur such an injury. If a non-athletic person begins to use the lower leg muscles without proper conditioning or after a long period of inactivity, the muscles will become more likely to become strained. Weak muscles will tire quickly, and tired muscles are more likely to tense up, which means a muscle strain will be more likely in tired, weak muscles.

A person with defined leg muscles.
A person with defined leg muscles.

The shoes one wears may also lead to a lower leg muscle strain, especially in the feet and calves. Poor footwear can lead to unnatural movement of the foot and ankle, which can in turn lead to excess strain being placed on the muscles of the foot and calf. If the arches of the feet are not properly supported, a person may experience a collapsed arch, which can in turn lead to pain throughout the lower legs. Muscle strains can occur when the muscles of the legs begin to move differently to accommodate the pain caused by the collapsed arch.

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Restless leg syndrome may also lead to muscle strains. This condition occurs when a person feels compelled to move his or her legs to alleviate some sort of discomfort in the lower body. The constant and sometimes violent motions can lead to muscle strains as well as soreness in the legs or any other part of the body that is moved regularly or violently.

Some shoes can lead to lower leg muscle strain.
Some shoes can lead to lower leg muscle strain.

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