Jumping jacks are a easy-to-learn exercise that uses only your body for resistance. Because of their ease, jumping jacks can be used as an aerobic activity during group exercise classes or boot camps, and as warm-ups for sports teams or for your circuit-training workouts. If you experience calf pain during or immediately after performing jumping jacks, check with your doctor. The pain could indicate a simple pulled muscle or something more serious, such as a blood clot.
Your Achilles tendon is a thick, fibrous band that connects your calf muscles to your heel. When you experience Achilles pain, you'll feel discomfort on the back of your lower leg, just above the heel. An inflammation of your Achilles can be caused by overuse, such as performing too many jumping jacks. The Achilles contracts each time you raise your heel higher than your toes, which occurs as you push off the floor and jump. You may feel pain to the touch, or during activity. If you wake to Achilles pain, you may feel better after you move around and increase the blood flow to the tendon.
The calf muscles are affected when you perform jumping jacks, especially if you land on your toes. The calves may cramp or feel weak due to overuse, in which case rest should help you feel better. Other lower-leg symptoms make up a condition called exertional compartment syndrome, or ECS. Symptoms include a dull and achy, or a squeezing and sharp pain; calves that feel tight to the touch, as if it needs to be stretched; and a tingling or numbing feeling that lasts long after the exercise is finished. Seek medical attention if you experience lasting calf pain from performing jumping jacks. ECS can lead to muscle damage if ignored.
The bones in your lower legs may also be affected by jumping jacks. Over time, the bones can experience a stress fracture from repetitive use or poor form. Always wear supportive shoes to protect your bones when doing jumping jacks. Do the activities on forgiving ground such as a wood floor, a cushioned exercise mat or grass to minimize the impact on your lower legs.
Exercise like jumping jacks temporarily compresses the blood vessels as blood is pumped to the working muscles. If the blood flow to your calves is compromised by a disorder such as blood clots or blocked blood vessels, you'll experience pain in your lower legs. The pain may feel like a cramp or a dull ache. The pain resulting from a blood clot or blocked blood vessel usually stops within five minutes of the activity's end when the blood vessels are no longer compressed.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.