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Calf Cramps
Untitled Document

CALF CRAMPS

Learn how to Stop and Avoid Calf Cramps from Occurring with these Helpful Hints!

Muscle cramps can be a very painful condition that can prevent you from undertaking your favorite activities, or completing an exercise routine. Calf cramps in particular can occur suddenly and cause severe pain in the legs and joints. Some people experience calf cramps only when exercising or performing vigorous physical tasks, while other people get them at night as they are trying to fall asleep. The most common risk factors for calf cramps are dehydration and electrolyte depletion, but there are some ways you can reduce these risks and keep your legs healthy and strong.  Here’s what you need to know about calf cramps:


WHAT CAUSES CALF CRAMPS

The exact cause of muscle cramps is unknown, but we do know that there are several reactions that occur in the leg muscles that cause these painful cramps. Cramping usually feels like a slight tugging of the muscle, followed by severe pain that ‘locks’ the muscle. What’s really happening is the muscle fibers are overstimulated; the nerves are still carrying the contraction signals, but the muscle is already relaxed, so it causes a sustained contraction which becomes a cramp.
People who experience calf cramps at night often suffer from sleep deprivation or poor quality sleep because they are woken up by twitching or cramping calf muscles. The most common reason for calf cramps at night is the position of the foot; if the foot is pointed upward or pushed against something in an awkward position, the nerves in the foot can trigger the cramping signal. You need to be mindful of your sleeping position so you are not setting yourself up for a night of painful cramps.
You have a higher chance of experiencing calf cramps under the following conditions:

  • Dehydration

  • Low electrolytes

  • Extreme heat

  • Exercising without appropriate stretching

  • Performing a new exercise

  • Poor blood circulation

EXERCISES TO STOP CALF CRAMPS

If you’re suffering from constant calf cramps, there are some exercises you can do to stretch out the muscles and relieve the pain:
When you experience calf cramps, you need to stop all activity and sit or stand in one place. Hold the joint that is cramped in a stretched position; this will hurt at first, but you need to push yourself to stretch it so that the fibers can be released.  This should only take a few seconds, and you need to maintain this position until the cramping stops.Drink lots of water and relax for a while before returning to your regular activity.

HOW TO PREVENT CALF CRAMPS

There are several ways you can prevent calf cramps from occurring. You can:

  • Stretch regularly, preferably once in the morning, then again before and after your exercise routine

  • Make sure you warm up and cool down properly during your exercise sessions

  • Stretch all leg muscles thoroughly in a standing and seated position so you can increase circulation throughout the legs

  • Drink water regularly throughout the day

  • Eat a well-balanced diet

  • Avoid eating heavy meals right before exercising

  • Make sure you have enough potassium in your diet

  • Load up on electrolytes from sports drinks before and after your workout

Read More

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Sabah Karimi writes on health, fitness and lifestyle for DivaVillage.



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