When you're working out, a cramp in your lower body can stop you right in your tracks. Even if you're not exercising, cramps in your toe, foot, calf or leg can really put a damper on your day. These cramps occur when the muscles contracts involuntarily on its own, potentially because the muscle is overused, you're dehydrated or you're not consuming the right balance of electrolytes. Some simple remedies, however, will help soothe that cramp and let you get on with your day, pain-free.
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Stopping the Pain
When a lower-body cramp strikes during a workout session, all you can do is stretch and keep moving. A simple calf stretch will help—stand with your palms place flat against a surface, whether a wall at the gym or a light post outside. Step back with the leg that's suffering the cramp and lean forward, pushing against the wall, until you feel a stretch. You might also benefit from a quick massage of the muscle.
If the cramp strikes the toes or feet, sit down, remove your shoes and pull on the toes until you feel that stretch. If you're at home and have a towel handy, sit down and stretch your legs out in front of you. Wrap the towel around the affected foot while your foot is flexed and your toes are pointed toward the ceiling. Pull the towel and lift your leg slightly until you feel the stretch in the foot.
If you're still feeling the effect later, use a heating pad to increase blood circulation to the painful muscle. For really stubborn cramps, pop a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen.
If you're regularly getting muscle cramps in your lower body, take a look at some common causes to see if the issue can be rectified. First, consider how much water you're consuming, particularly if you work out regularly. Dehydration is one of the top causes of muscle cramps, as is an off-kilter balance of electrolytes, such as calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium. However, if you eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, you probably are consuming the appropriate amounts of each. Magnesium is also a common cause of cramps, but talk to your doctor before adding supplements to your diet.
If you're experiencing foot or toe cramps, take a look at your shoes. A shoe that's too small can cause cramps, as can one that is too worn. Keep your running shoes for 350 to 500 miles, and replace them when you start feeling aches and pains.