3 Stretches to Stop Leg Cramps

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3 Stretches to Stop Leg Cramps

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Even when you do your best to try to prevent annoying leg cramps, sometimes they still hit you in the middle of a run or big race. The good news is that stretching is a strategy that has great success in relieving a cramp.

If you're suddenly struck with a nasty, mid-run cramp in your calf, quad, or hamstring, here are some stretches to get rid of them so you can get back to running.

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Calf Stretch

Calf Stretch for Runners
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The calf muscle is a common area for cramping. Here's what to do if your calf muscle suddenly cramps up while you're running.

  1. Get over to the side of the road or path you're on and stop running.
  2. Take a step forward with your non-cramping leg.
  3. Extend your cramping leg straight out behind you with your foot facing forward and your heel on the ground. You can use a wall or tree to push up against, but it's not necessary.
  4. Your front leg should be bent. Slowly transfer your weight to that leg until you feel the stretch in your cramping calf.
  5. If you don't feel the stretch, move your cramping leg back a few more inches, but make sure you keep the heel of your rear foot on the floor.
  6. Feel the stretch in the calf of that leg, and hold 15 to 30 seconds. Release and repeat.
  7. If you're prone to tight calves, you can also do the stretch on your other leg, as a preventive measure.

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Quad Stretch

Quadricep Stretch
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The quadriceps (front thigh muscles) are another troublesome area for runners. If your quad suddenly seizes and cramps up during a run, try this stretch:

  1. Move over to the side of the road or running path. Stand straight (don't lean forward), lift the foot of your cramping leg up behind you, and grab your foot with your hand on that side.
  2. Pull your heel gently toward your butt, feeling a stretch in your quad.
  3. Keep your other leg straight and try to keep your knees as close together as possible.
  4. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Release and repeat.
  5. If you're prone to tight quads, you can also do the stretch on your other leg, as a preventive measure.

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Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Stretch for Runners
Siri Stafford

A common sight in the final miles of a marathon is a runner grabbing his or her hamstring (back of the thigh) with a pained expression on his or her face. The hamstring is a very common area for cramping, especially in the late stages of a race. Here's what to do if you suffer from a mid-run hamstring cramp.

  1. Move over to the side of the road or running path.
  2. Stand with your legs crossed and the outsides of your feet together. Your cramping leg should be behind your other leg.
  3. Slowly bend over with your rear knee straight.
  4. Reach toward your feet or bring your torso toward your legs.
  5. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Release and repeat.
  6. If you're prone to tight hamstrings, you can also do the stretch on your other leg, as a preventive measure.

If that stretch doesn't work as well as you hoped, and you're able to get down on the ground, try this hamstring stretch.

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