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Leg Cramps

Almost everyone has had muscle cramps when a calf muscle goes into spasm and forms a hard painful lump. The other common muscle cramp involves the foot being pulled downward into spasm. These usually happen during sleep. They can also occur during swimming or other sports. The cause is overuse of that muscle. There is no medical cause for this type of cramp.

The treatment for an attack is to stretch the foot upward as far as it will go to break the spasm in the calf and foot muscles. Massage and heat can also help. More importantly, here’s how to prevent these calf muscle cramps in the future:

Do daily stretching exercises of the heel cords. With your knees straight, lean forward at the ankles 10° or 20° past the perpendicular. Hold this position for a count of ten and repeat it several times. It’s especially important to stretch after vigorous exercise.

Finally, keep in mind that leg cramps are never outgrown. They are part of the human condition, but most of them can be prevented if you do regular stretching exercises.

During Dr. Schmitt’s 20 years as a medical practitioner and researcher, he has published over 100 articles or chapters on pediatric health care, and has been awarded the distinguished C. Anderson Aldrich Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics for outstanding contributions to the field of child development. Schmitt has also authored five books including Your Child’s Health, which won Child Magazine’s first Hall of Fame Award in 1991. Schmitt is also a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and on staff at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado.

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