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Are you being awoken from your slumber by a nasty leg cramp? You’re not alone, nocturnal leg cramps are common with 60% of the general population reporting some instances of being awoken by the cramping sensation in their calf, quad, or hamstring with the calf muscle being the most common muscle affected. Leg cramps are involuntary muscle spasms of one or more muscles. Waiting >45 seconds will often allow for the cramping to subside but what if we could do something to prevent the cramping from even starting?
Possible mechanical causes:
- Sleeping position: increased plantar flexion (pointing the toes downward) leading to shortening of the calf muscle for a prolonged period of time
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Prolonged sitting with your legs crossed
- Muscle overexertion/fatigue: following all those calf raises in the gym!
- Prolonged standing
- Nerves firing inappropriately
Tips and simple exercise to help avoid cramping:
- Calf muscle self-release: while long sitting on a hard surface, place a lacrosse ball underneath the calf muscle belly, move your foot up and down while placing pressure onto the ball once you find an area that seems tight or uncomfortable. Repeat the same motion by placing the lacrosse ball in new spots on the calf muscle. Video Demonstration
- Watch your positioning throughout the day: Avoid standing for a long period of time, avoid repetitive exercises for calf strengthening
- Drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water per day!