ZocdocAnswersWhy are my calves swelling?

Question

Why are my calves swelling?

I've been doing some new exercise stuff at my gym. Playing more tennis and doing spin classes and things like that. I feel like it has caused my calves to swell because they are a bit sore and look bigger than they used to be. Why are they swelling? Does it mean that I have to stop exercising completely?

Answer

Generally speaking, increased exercise should not cause your calves to swell. Certainly some over exertion may cause muscle strain, which could be a bit uncomfortable or give a sensation of tightness in the calves, but this should not actually lead to swelling. One exception might be that if you are doing a lot of exercise involving pounding on the feet (running for long periods of time, for example), you might collect a bit of fluid around the ankles at the end of your exercise session, but this should go away quickly, certainly by the next morning. Therefore, I would suggest that you see your primary care doctor for evaluation. There are many different causes of calf swelling. Many of these are benign, but some do require evaluation and treatment. For example, serious causes of leg swelling include blood clots in the veins of the legs and trouble with the heart. Less serious causes include increased salt consumption, varicose veins, and various medications. Your doctor can perform a thorough evaluation and help you determine whether or not this is something that you need to be worried about and, if so, what tests or steps would come next. Good luck!

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