A spasm occurs when a muscle suddenly and involuntarily contracts in a centralized location. It can occur anywhere in the body where there are muscles, and while often painful, it is also normally temporary. A calf spasm is occurs when the muscles of the lower part of the leg contract suddenly. Below is some information on how to prevent calf spasms, and how to alleviate pain in the event that a calf spasm occurs.
Calf spasms, also known as a charley horse, can occur when a muscle becomes fatigued, such as through a vigorous workout. The charley horse is often visible, depending on the amount of muscle that a person has, appearing as a hard ball or a lump in the calf. Proper hydration also plays a part in muscle operation, and dehydration can lead to muscle complications such as calf spasms. In addition to the rest of the body, nutrition also affects muscles, and some vitamin and nutritional absences as well as electrolyte deficiencies have been known to cause muscle spasms, such as calcium deficiency. There are also some neurological medical conditions that can cause involuntary muscle contractions, which is much more difficult to treat.
The calf is often overlooked during pre or post workout stretching, leaving it more susceptible to spasms. In order to minimize the risk of calf spasms, it is important to warm up the muscles slowly, and include stretches for different parts of the body. In addition, it is very important to drink plenty of water during exercise in order to replace fluids lost, and even include such sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade, which are designed to replace electrolytes during activity.
If a charley horse occurs, there are some simple steps that can be taken in order to alleviate pain. First, massaging the calf area where the muscles are contracted will allow the muscle to relax. Massaging after applying a topical ointment such as IcyHot may prove even more effective. Stretching can also help the muscle to stretch out and relax, and applying heat to the area will also allow the muscle to loosen. However, if no action is taken, the pain should subside and the muscle will loosen and relax on its own.
In most cases, calf spasms are preventable and easily treatable without medication, and leave no lasting effects, but it is a good idea to take proper precautions whenever possible in order to have the most pain free workout possible.