According to WebMD, the most likely causes of a sharp pain in the calf are muscle cramping and tendinitis. Treat muscle cramps by ceasing activity, gently massaging the muscle and apply heat or ice to the afflicted area to ease pain. If the cause is tendinitis, avoid further aggravating the pain, and ice the muscle regularly.
Muscle cramps, also known as charley horses, are caused by muscle fatigue, dehydration or heat. WebMD states that endurance athletes, older people and athletes who are not properly conditioned are more likely to get muscle cramps. To prevent them, introduce more conditioning into a fitness regime, and properly stretch before and after exercising. Vegetarian sports nutritionist Dr. Enette Larson-Meyer suggests a link between the frequency of leg cramps and an insufficiency of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and carbohydrates.
One of the earliest symptoms of tendinitis is pain in the lower calf. If icing and rest do not relieve pain, WebMD suggests taking anti-inflammatory medications and switching to supportive shoes to lessen the tension on the tendons. Severe pain indicates that the tendon may be torn entirely. St. John Providence Health System describes a prevention program that consists of warming up before exercise, slowly increasing intensity, building flexibility, working out consistently and always using proper technique.