BENGALURU: Even the best of athletes might not escape the shooting pain of leg cramps in weather as chilly as this.
Muscles stiffening and cramping up in the cold is a common complaint, said Dr Basavaraj Kyvater, Senior Orthopedic Surgeon, Sagar Hospital. This is especially true of the less active or outdoorsy type, or people who rush through their exercise routines.
“A runner who stops his exercise or sprints suddenly will be inviting trouble,” he said.
During a cramp, the muscles contract (shorten) suddenly, causing a spasm in the leg. This is particularly uncomfortable for seniors.
Dr Madan Ballal, Sports Medicine, Apollo Hospital, said, “Leg cramps are a common and usually harmless condition where the muscles become tight and painful. If pain becomes unbearable, during short walk or while resting, visit a physician.” Senior citizens and pregnant women are more prone to cramps, said Dr Naresh Shetty, Medical Director, MS Ramaiah Medical College and Hospital.
“Cramps normally occur in the calf muscles, although it can affect any part of your leg, including feet and thighs. After the spasm has passed, you may have pain and tenderness in your leg for several hours. Most of the cases occur at night, during sleep.”
Your legs can cramp up even when it’s bright and sunny, sometimes for no apparent reason. These idiopathic leg cramps, or a symptom or complication of a health condition. In cases like these, it’s best not to put off a visit to your doctor.
Stretch regularly, particularly at night before going to bed
Drink plenty of warm water, keep yourself hydrated
Who is Affected
Youths and adults over 60 years
Pregnant women: About a third of pregnant women have leg cramps, usually during the last trimester (week 27).
However, people of all ages, including children, have reported having leg cramps. Both men and women are equally affected.
Seek Medical Help When...
Your leg cramps are affecting your quality of life: if you cannot walk or run; if they are frequent and are interfering with your sleep; if there is numbness or swelling.
Most cases of leg cramps can be relieved by exercising the affected muscles. Exercising your legs during the day can help reduce cramping episodes.
Stretch Your Calf Muscles
Stand with the front half of your feet on a step, your heels off the edge. Slowly lower your heels so that they are below the level of the step. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat.
This is usually only needed in the most persistent of cases, when exercise isn’t helping. If you have secondary cramps, treating the underlying cause might relieve your symptoms. Leg cramps that occur during pregnancy usually passes after the baby is born.