EXERCISES TO STOP LEG CRAMPS
As we age, we often sit for extended periods of time. That is part of the reason that many of us get leg cramps. A cramp (also known as a muscle spasm) is a chronic contraction, shortening and tightening of a muscle. It is often extremely painful. The best method for getting rid of any cramp is to stretch and/or massage the muscle. In the case of leg cramps, stretching the muscles along the back of the leg is essential and should become a daily routine for everyone, especially those older. You can stretch the legs sitting or standing.
- Calf stretch: Straighten your leg, flex your foot, push your heel away. Flex and point your foot 4 times. Stretch through your knee. Keep pulling your toes back toward you.
- Hamstring stretch: Sit at the front of your chair; extend one leg out straight with the heel on the floor, toes pulling back toward you. Tilt your straight spine forward, both hands on the leg that is bent. Be very careful not to be so far forward that fall.
- Stretch the back of your legs: Runner’s stretch: Place one foot behind the other, back heel on the floor. Bend your front knee so that it is directly over your ankle. Make sure the back foot is not turning out; the toes should be going straight forward. You will feel your back leg stretching. You can do this exercise anywhere. Lean against a tree or wall while you stretch; during your walk or at the mall. Recommended time to hold the stretch is 30 seconds for each leg. It is highly recommended that you do this stretch before getting into bed at night. If you have to get up in the middle of the night it is recommended that you do it again before getting back into bed.
- Hamstring stretch: Shift your weight to one foot and extend the other leg out, heel on the floor, toes pulling back toward you. Fold your torso over the extended leg with your spine straight. Place your hand on top of the thigh and press down as you fold over. You may feel more comfortable if you hold onto a piece of sturdy furniture with your free hand as you do this stretch.