How to alleviate bilateral calf cramps during athletics?

A cramp is a sudden and involuntary contraction of muscles that leave you in severe pain and can make you temporarily immobile. Bilateral calf cramps are generally a result of overexertion of muscles or dehydration. When the body is dehydrated there is an imbalance of electrolytes - like sodium, potassium and calcium - and it makes the muscles to cramp. A mineral deficiency in the body can also lead to muscle cramping. Cramps may also happen if proper warm up is not done before participating in sports or athletics. It is important to take care of cramps or prevent it from happening because severe cramping of calf muscles cause permanent damage to the muscle.

You can take up some self-care methods to ease your calf cramps. It is advisable to massage your calf muscles to increase blood flow and get rid of cramp. You may also do some stretching exercises to ease up the pain. Try to gently stretch the cramped muscle and help it relax. You can try putting your weight on the cramped leg and slightly bend the knee. If you are unable to get up on your legs, sit down with your legs straight, try to touch your toes with your hands and gently pull them towards you. To relieve the pain you can also apply hot and/or cold compress. Apply a heating pad on the calf muscle to increase the blood circulation and help relax the tense muscles. You can also use a warm towel on the cramped muscle or take a warm bath. Along with hot compress, cold compress can also be applied to relax and relieve the pain of cramped muscles. You can apply ice pack or a cloth dipped in ice cold water.

As a preventive measure, always keep your body well hydrated so that your body has ample amount of fluid. Water intake may vary from person to person according to the level of physical activity and environmental factors. It is important to keep drinking fluids at regular intervals every day. Fluids help your muscles to be more flexible and decrease the chances of cramps. Fluids also help maintain the electrolyte balance in the body that is important for muscle function. Besides plain water you can take fruit juices or special sports drinks that contain adequate electrolytes. Also remember to always stretch your muscles and warm them up properly before or after your athletic exercises.

If your calf cramps start getting more frequent or severe, you might need the help of a sports therapist.

answered by M W

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