Cramps refer to sudden, painful muscle contractions that occur involuntarily. These muscle cramps are painful as they involve the over-contraction of the muscle. Cramps are very common with roughly 95% of people experiencing them at some stage in their lives. This increases in probability as we get older. One of the most common places to get cramps is in our legs, especially in our calf muscles.
Cramps can affect anyone at any time. They commonly occur during prolonged, vigorous activity (such as running a marathon) or immediately afterwards. They can also occur at rest, especially at night in bed. When sleeping our knees are bent and our feet are bent in a downward pointed position, which shortens the calf muscles. Further contraction of this already shortened muscle can lead to over-contraction and a resulting spasm.
The duration of cramps differs greatly. They can last several seconds, several minutes, or in rare cases up to 15 minutes. Even after settling the muscle may also remain sore for the next 24 hours or so. When experiencing a calf cramp the first thing to do is stop what you are doing. Whether that involves stopping a run, stopping your bike, or even changing your position whilst lying in bed. The second step is to gently stretch the afflicted muscle. Whether that involves stretching against a wall or pointing your toes towards yourself in bed, you need to hold the position until the cramp settles. Thirdly ice and gentle massage can be beneficial to reduce sharp pain and relieve the soreness.
For advice on prevention and management of calf cramps it is best to see your Podiatrist. Call our reception at (07) 3823 5423 to book an appointment.