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Whether you're sleeping, enjoying your daily jog or just going about your day, a calf cramp can unexpectedly force you to stop whatever you're doing. The pain can be excruciating and if severe, it can result in muscle damage. These muscle cramps, also referred to as charley horses, are uncontrollable and can be triggered by many factors, including dehydration, muscle fatigue and mineral deficiencies. Rather than suffering through a cramp and waiting for it to go away, learn ways to speed up the process and rapidly relieve your discomfort.
Massage the cramped calf with your hands. Massaging promotes blood flow to the muscles and can help ease some of the tension. If you often experience calf cramps, consider getting regular sports massages to help prevent them.
Perform a standing calf stretch to help relieve your cramp. Stand upright with your arms extended in front of you and your hands flat on a wall. Take a step back with your cramped leg, placing your heel on the floor and keeping your knee straight. Bend the knee of your front leg and lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in your cramped calf. Hold this position for about 15 seconds. Do this stretch four times.
Stretch your calf while sitting down, if standing up is not an option. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Flex the foot of your cramped leg and wrap a towel around it. Hold the ends of the towel in your hands and gently pull it toward you so your toes move back. Pause for 15 seconds when you feel the stretch in your calf. Repeat the stretch four times.
Apply heat and cold to the cramped calf. Take a warm bath or shower or apply a hot pack to the area to help relax your muscles. If the area is still painful after this, apply a cold pack to relieve the pain.
Drink water to relieve a calf cramp if you believe dehydration is causing the spasm. If you've been sweating a lot, drink a sports drink or take salt tablets to replenish lost sodium stores.
- To prevent cramps in your lower leg, eat foods rich in magnesium, sodium and potassium. Include foods such as low-fat yogurt, bananas, brown rice, spinach, beans and almonds in your diet.
- Avoid rapidly increasing your exercise intensity and if you experience cramps, reduce your exercise intensity to help prevent future occurrences.