Calf cramps, also referred to as a charley horse, can be painful and have even been known to wake people from a peaceful slumber. They are caused by involuntary contractions or spasms of the muscles. Stretching your calves in the morning may help the pain and contractions subside.
Causes of Calf Cramps
Calf cramps can occur for a variety of reason ranging from something as simple as inadequate carbohydrate intake to something more serious. Stay hydrated and get enough rest as dehydration and lack of sleep are common factors associated with leg cramping. Additional causes include: low salt levels, excessive exercise, muscle weakness, medications and flat feet. If leg cramps persist, make an appointment with a medical professional to rule out any serious conditions.
Stretch by Flexing Your Toes
Sit on the floor or an exercise mat. Stretch your legs out in front of you, keeping them straight. Lean forward as far as you can. Keep your spine as straight as possible. Grab the arch of your feet if possible. Wrap a towel around the arches of your feet as an alternative. Stretch your toes toward your body. When you feel the tension in your calves, hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
Calf Stretch Using a Wall
A wall can be a useful tool to help keep your balance while stretching your calf. Face the wall and place your hands against the wall about shoulder width apart. Bend the knee of the cramped leg while extending the other leg backward. The rear leg should be straight, without locking the knees. Lean toward the wall, bending your elbows if needed, until you feel the tightness subside. Hold the calf stretch for 10 to 15 seconds.
Massaging and Heat
In addition to stretching, try massaging the spasming muscle as an alternative for pain relief. When the calf is in a stretched position, massage the muscle group with your fingers in a firm, circular motion. The massaging action supports improved circulation and helps relieve muscle tension. Applying heat, with a heating pad or warm towel, may also help alleviate the calf muscle cramp.
Ann Daniels has been a professional writer for more than 10 years. Her work has been published in many national health and wellness publications. Daniels holds a Master of Arts in communications from the University of Colorado at Boulder.