Tennis leg

Tennis leg is a term utilize to describe ache or discomfort in the leg due to a tear in the interior dome of the big calf muscle or the plantaris muscle or even both. The individual might experience pain and weakness if attempting to stand up on tip toes.

Tennis leg involves a rupture or tear on the plantaris muscle and possibly the medial head or interior of the gastrocnemius muscle which is bigger than the 2 calf muscles. It is important to note that the plantaris muscle is thin and runs in the rear part of the inferior leg that is linked at the top of the exterior knee and moves to the rear of the calf and encloses on the heel bone. It is responsible for helping the larger calf muscles in plantar flexion of the ankle or pointing the foot downwards.

The injury is typically brought about by trauma or force to the leg as the knee is straightened. Certain movements such as pushing off or jumping might cause tennis leg.

Tennis leg

Abrupt onset of knee pain in the back part or calf muscle.

What are the indications?

  • Abrupt onset of knee pain in the back part or calf muscle
  • Difficulty or inability to move the ankle
  • Pain and weakness if attempting to stand on tip toes
  • Swelling and bruising at the rear part of the leg


The treatment for tennis leg is the same as any muscle strain with the PRICE method (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation). An ice pack must be applied after the injury for 10-15 minutes every hour during the initial phase during the initial 24-48 hours. The frequency of the applications is lowered as the symptoms settle. An elastic bandage is applied to provide compression as well as protect the joint and reduce the swelling.

If walking triggers pain, crutches are useful since partial weight bearing is recommended. It is important to note that full weight bearing and normal walking must be done as soon as possible.

Mobility exercises and mild stretching of the calf can be performed after the initial 1-2 days if free from pain. Once normal walking no longer triggers pain, strengthening exercise must be started.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on tennis leg is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage muscles injuries and conditions including tennis leg by taking a standard first aid course with Kelowna First Aid.