Painful muscle cramps? Simple and easy tips to help.


A muscle cramp is a painful uncontrollable spasm or twitching of muscle tissue for a few seconds to minutes. Common areas of cramp are the calf and foot, but can affect the whole body.


RISK FACTORS

There are no clear risk factors for developing cramp, however research suggest dehydration, mineral and electrolyte imbalances, muscle fatigue, poor physical conditioning, exercising in extreme environments and inflexible muscles may cause cramp. Cramps are usually harmless, but may by symptomatic of underlying reduced blood supply (atherosclerosis), lower back pain, and side effects of medications (diuretics).


TREATMENT

Stretching and massage are used by physiotherapists to lengthen the cramping muscle tissue, followed by light soft tissue massage. Ice packs can be used for severe cramps to relax muscle tissue. Medications can be helpful to manage and prevent muscle cramps. Commonly athletes use electrolyte drinks to prevent muscle cramps. Medical advice is to be sought for any patients who have cramps lasting longer then a few minutes. Stretching of affected muscles, three times per day is effective in managing cramp. Stretches are to be performed before and after exercise, and before bed. Cramps commonly occur in the calf muscles.


Here’s a simple exercise that may help – to stretch the calf muscles, stand 50cm away from a wall; heel of your foot flat on floor; place both hands on wall and lean forward on wall until you feel stretching at the back of your leg.


PREVENTION

Physiotherapists can help prevent muscle cramps by improving physical fitness and incorporating regular stretching into their warm up/cool down routine of our patients. Prior to onset of cramp adequate hydration and nutrition is essential. Follow this link for warm up exercises. Patients and athletes suffering muscle cramps can be reviewed by our physiotherapists and dietitians to help manage symptoms of cramp. Our team has had extensive involvement with amateur and professional athletes, including footballers and triathletes.

Book in today for further advice. We are located in Hilton and Canning Vale.

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