Cramps usually go away on their own without seeing
a doctor. Self-care:
· Stop doing whatever activity triggered the cramp.
· Gently stretch and massage the cramping muscle, holding
it in stretched position until the cramp stops.
· Apply heat to tense/tight muscles, or cold to sore/tender
To avoid future cramps, work toward better overall
fitness. Do regular flexibility exercises before and after you
work out to stretch muscle groups most prone to cramping. Always
warm up before stretching.
Calf muscle stretch:
In a standing lunge with both feet pointed forward, straighten
the rear leg. (Repeat with opposite leg.)
Hamstring muscle stretch:
Sit with one leg folded in and the other straight out, foot upright
and toes and ankle relaxed. Lean forward slightly, touch foot
of straightened leg. (Repeat with opposite leg.)
Quadriceps muscle stretch:
While standing, hold top of foot with opposite hand and gently
pull heel toward buttocks. (Repeat with opposite leg.) Hold each
stretch briefly, then release. Never stretch to the point of pain.
To prevent cramps, you should also keep your body
adequately hydrated. Children especially often do not drink enough
liquids to replenish fluid lost during exercise. Some tips:
· Drink water at regular intervals, before
you get thirsty.
· Drink more than your thirst requires.
· Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage if you are working
in heat or sweating for more than an hour.
When to see the doctor
Although most muscle cramps are benign, sometimes they can indicate
a serious medical condition. See your doctor if cramps are severe,
happen frequently, respond poorly to simple treatments or are
not related to obvious causes like strenuous exercise. You could
have problems with circulation, nerves, metabolism, hormones,
medications or nutrition. Muscle cramps may be a minor part of
many conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic
lateral sclerosis), spinal nerve irritation or compression (radiculopathy),
hardening of the arteries, narrowing of the spinal canal (stenosis),
thyroid disease, chronic infections and cirrhosis of the liver.
Give the doctor your medical history including details
about allergies, illnesses, injuries, surgeries, and medications.
How long have you experienced cramps? Is there a family history
of the problem? Do your cramps occur only after exercise, or do
they happen while at rest? Does stretching relieve the cramps?
Do you have muscle weakness or other symptoms? Your doctor may
want to take a routine blood test to rule out diseases.