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Calf Cramps How to STOP Calf Cramps

by | Nov 21, 2021 | Home Exercise Programs

How to Stop Calf Cramps at Night When They are Happening

One of the must frustrating times to get a calf cramp is in the middle of the night. You may be sound asleep when all of a sudden you experience this intense shooting pain which causes you to draw up in writhing agony.

Stop a Calf Cramp While It Is Starting

If you awaken soon enough, the best strategy to stop a calf cramp from intensifying is to pull your toes back toward your shin using your ankle muscles.

This motion is called dorsiflexion and will help take advantage of a reflexive activity called reciprocal inhibition

You can try two distinct strategies:

  1. Contract Relax – in this case you would pump the muscles that pull the top of the foot back toward your shin bone. Like taking pressure off the accelerator in your car. Focus on the pulling back of the foot and avoid actively pressing down.
  2. Sustained Contraction – The other choice is to use a longer duration sustained contraction. As long as you feel the calf muscle tightening and seizing up, keep the dorsiflexors of the ankle working in an attempt to pull the top of the foot back. 

Anatomy

The two main muscles that make up the calf are the soleus and gastrocnemius muscle.

Image of Gastrocnemius Muscle

Gastrocnemius Muscle

Soleus Muscle

Soleus Muscle

How to Prevent Calf Crams from Happening

Preventing calf cramps from happening in the first place is obviously the best solution.

The following 7 tips to prevent calf cramps might help:

  1. Stay hydrated
  2. Maintain Soft Tissue Mobility
  3. Maintain proper electrolyte balance
  4. Keep your calf muscles strong
  5. Keep your calf muscles stretched
  6. Keep your heart healthy
  7. Massage your calf muscles

What Causes Calf Cramps?

There are many factors that may cause cramping. Especially cramping at night. Here 4 of the more common causes of leg and calf cramping at night.

  • Dehydration or imbalanced electrolytes are the most common causes.
  • Lumbar stenosis and other degenerative changes in the lumbar spain may also be a contributing factor to general leg cramping.
  • Various types of neuropathy may contribute to calf and leg cramping.
  • Significant of unexpected increases in activity levels may contribute to muscle cramping at night.
Anthony Maritato, PT

Anthony Maritato, PT

Physical Therapist

Anthony Maritato, PT has been a licensed physical therapist and private practice owner since 2006. Ohio license #PT011602.

Anthony has been passionate about helping patients recover from total knee replacement surgery as well as rotator cuff repair surgery.

Anthony Maritato, PT

Anthony Maritato, PT

Physical Therapist

Anthony Maritato, PT has been a licensed physical therapist and private practice owner since 2006. Ohio license #PT011602.

Anthony has been passionate about helping patients recover from total knee replacement surgery as well as rotator cuff repair surgery.