What is Causing my Calf Cramps?

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Leg cramps are a common pain we all experience throughout life. After a long hike, an intense swim, or when feeling dehydrated, we can all experience a minor twinge in the calves that make us sit and rest for a while. But what if your calf cramps aren’t happening just now and then? If you’re experiencing calf or leg cramps frequently, you may be experiencing a muscle injury or chronic pain condition. 

This article will explore the various causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention methods for calf pain. However, if you believe something serious is going on, it is always best to contact your pain specialist for a consultation and diagnosis. 

What is causing my calf cramps?

Calf cramps happen for several reasons. Sometimes, overexertion of the muscles or dehydration can cause temporary calf strain. However, recurring issues can worsen your calf cramps or have them coupled with shin splints and other injuries. 

Dehydration or low electrolytes

Your muscles depend on water and electrolytes to function during exercise. If you aren’t drinking water and replenishing your body with electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, you could be doing your body a disservice. 

Too much exercise

Muscle strain will happen if you increase your exercise regimen too much or too fast. It would help if you paced yourself to see the results you want without ending up with an injury. 

Lack of pre-workout stretching

Stretching before a workout loosens up the muscles and prepares them for more challenging work ahead. If you start a 5K run after sitting all day, you’ll likely injure yourself and have calf cramps later. 

Pre-existing medical conditions

Sometimes, calf cramps signify an underlying condition that needs medical attention. Contact your doctor immediately if you are experiencing calf cramps but have not changed your activity levels.  

How can I avoid calf cramps?

If your calf cramps are due to exercise or stress, there are several ways you can prevent them in the future: 

Use heat to relax muscles

A heating pad or hot bath can help relax the muscles after exercise and prevent camping later. If you feel exhausted after a workout, soothe with a heat compress to avoid pain the next day. 

Stay hydrated and eat before exercising.

Replenish your body with water and electrolytes before and after a workout. A healthy snack and electrolyte water can help you feel better throughout the day. 

Stretch your legs

Stretching before and after a workout will help you feel looser, creating a better exercise experience. Be sure to do this five minutes before and after your workout to take care of your muscles properly. 

Should I see a doctor?

In some cases, calf cramps can signify something more serious than a strenuous workout recovery. If your leg pain is sudden, chronic, or has occurred without changing physical activity. You should consult your pain specialist. Sudden or unexpected calf cramps could be a sign of severe muscle strain, Achilles tendonitis, deep vein thrombosis, or compartment syndrome. 

PPOA treats all types of leg pain, from sports injuries to chronic conditions. If you are ready to be free of chronic leg pain, give your local PPOA office a call to schedule a consultation.