Muscle cramps are when your muscles contract suddenly and become tight and tense. It can be extremely painful. Cramps that happen while you’re exercising, or immediately afterwards are known as ‘exercise-induced’, or ‘exercise-associated’ muscle cramps. Cramps occur in muscles known as voluntary (or skeletal), which are normally under your control. However, a cramp causes your muscle to contract strongly and not relax as you want.
While any muscle can experience spasms, most muscle cramps affect:
- your calf muscle (gastrocnemius)
- Your foot muscles
- The group of muscles located in the front of the thigh (quadriceps).
- The group of muscles at the back of your thigh (hamstrings).
Most cramps last less than one minute. Sometimes, the pain can last up to 10 minutes. Your muscle may feel tender for as long as 24 hours. If you continue to exercise and allow your muscles to heal, the cramp could occur again.
How Can I Stop A Cramp In My Muscles?
You can stop exercising if you feel a cramp in your muscles. Instead, gently stretch the muscle. Keep the muscle stretched for at least 30 seconds. You want to feel the muscle relax. This 30-second stretch can be repeated three to four times.
You might also find it helpful if:
- Massage your muscles gently
- If you feel dehydrated, drink water and eat salty foods.
Rest is important to allow your muscles to heal. Otherwise, the cramps might come back.
These are just a few examples of muscle stretching exercises that should be helpful.
Calf (gastrocnemius): StretchHold your affected leg out in front of you, and stand up straight. Push your heel towards the floor. For 30 seconds, hold the position. Alternately, you can use your hand to pull your foot and toes upwards. Hold for 30 seconds.
Your foot’s plantar fascia (small muscles and fibrous tissue): Stretch your foot, hold your toes up and pull them up. For 30 seconds, hold the position.
Front of your thigh, (quadriceps): Stretch standing straight up, lift your ankle towards the buttocks, and hold your top foot. To stretch, pull your heel in towards your buttocks. For 30 seconds, hold the position.
Back of your thigh, (hamstrings): Stretch straight down on the ground, with your legs straight ahead. Place your palms on the floor and move your hands towards your ankles. For 30 seconds, hold the position.
This post was written by Darryl Johnson, Co-Owner of Apex performance. At https://theapexperf.com/ we are a community of highly trained experts looking to provide performance enhancement and a permanent lifestyle change for our clients in a fun and interactive environment. Members can take advantage of one-on-one training, small group classes, and specialized courses for a wide variety of athletics, sports training, and body goals!