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Stretching? Is it the Answer to Muscle Cramp Relief

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October 30, 2015 by Jenn R. Share on: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

rubber bands in all different colorsI am happy to report that I have been keeping up with my commitment to fitness. This past week I ran three days despite having a bit of a cold. Breathing was slightly more challenging while I was congested but I managed to get through it. For the most part I felt pretty good while running. However, the last couple of post-run evenings I experienced cramping in my feet. So, I visited a couple of popular running sites on the web to find possible causes. I ended up finding two potential culprits that fit my situation.

Strenuous muscle exertion and dehydration could be to blame. Foot cramps are apparently quite common in runners, and are more likely to occur with age. The two articles I read agreed on that much. Interestingly enough, they didn’t agree on the prevention/treatment of said cramps. One article suggests stretching at the immediate onset of foot cramps while the other discourages stretching, stating “stretching often causes a "stretch reflex" that triggers cramping.” So, what is the answer? The more I read up on muscle cramps and searched different sites for answers, I started to understand the one site wasn’t necessarily discouraging stretching in its entirety but rather, holding off on stretching until the cramp passes. “When you are having a severe foot cramp, static stretches may be too uncomfortable. Active stretches such as ankle circles and toe curls may be more comfortable than holding a position.” Or more importantly, stretch after exercising, not before, because it is important for your body to already be warmed up. When muscles are really well warmed up they exhibit a high degree of plasticity. Plus, you may help ward off some of the soreness that follows the next day. No one likes to barely be able to get themselves out of bed, let alone be stiff as a board throughout the day!




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