I cannot imagine that there is anyone past the age of about 10, that has never had calf cramps. Let's face it, they are horrible. From having no pain and full movement to excruciating agony in a matter of seconds. I think that you can relate to that. If you are into sports though, calf cramps are far more common, and can stop you in your tracks. So what are calf cramps exactly? Anyone competing in sports know that they usually occur after strenuous exercise. But what about those poor folk who wake up with cramps for no discernible reason. So, how do they occur?
How Calf Cramps Can Occur
Although not an exhaustive list by any means, here are some common causes of calf cramps
Dehydration: If you are involved in any sports, especially if you are serious about it, you should always ensure that you maintain your fluid levels. As you get hot, your body sweats, and you lose fluid. If these fluids are not replaced, there is a danger of dehydration, and dehydration can accelerate the onset of calf cramps.
Over tiredness: If you exercise longer or harder than you are used to, there is a danger of calf cramps. Sometimes, in competitive situations, this can be difficult to avoid, but in training, you should increase demands on your body slowly, so that it can get used to it. That is the purpose of training after all. If you train to peak fitness in competition, the likelihood of calf cramps or any injury for that matter, is reduced.
Vitamin deficiencies: There is speculation that that athletes who get calf cramps could suffer from low levels of potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Poor warm up: It is vital that you warm your body up carefully before any exercise. If you don't stretch your calves properly for example, they continually stay contracted and are thus more susceptible to cramps.
Poor circulation: I can attest to this myself. When I was young, I played a lot of soccer, and used shin guards to protect the front of my legs. To keep the shin guards in place, I used ties to hold my socks up. More than once, during a strenuous game, my calves tightened up and cramped. The cause, I am sure, was poor circulation as a result of tight sock ties.
Some of these causes will have obvious remedies for example. I shouldn't have tied up my socks so tight for example! If cramps occur during exercise, then stretching the calf whilst massaging can alleviate the pain, and stop the muscle from tightening. However, there are other things that you can do which might stop the problem occurring.
Stretch your muscles before exercise as part of a regular warm up routine. Try and warm down after exercise as well.
Ensure that you stay properly hydrated during exercise and drink plenty of water
The article was written by Charlie Cory, who is the owner of Home Fitness Online, a website dedicated to providing advice about attaining higher levels of fitness from the comfort of your own home.