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I've just found this forum thanks to someone sending me some 3YO messages and I wanted to share something important with you.

When people are running and they get a Charlie horse/cramp they automatically try to stretch it right away. This will cause the muscle to tear and you'll end up limping for the rest of the run and possibly for a few days later.

When a muscle starts to cramp it is following a phenomenon called the "all or nothing" response. This mean that when a muscle starts to contract it will either go all the way, or it won't go at all. In other words, a cramp is when all of the muscle fibers in your calf (for example) are contracting violently and quickly. They aren't going to stop the contraction in the middle so if you start to stretch it, the muscle is being pulled in two opposite directions, and it may tear.

I teach people to sit on the ground and put one hand behind your knee and the other hand just above the Achilles tendon, then push your hands together as hard as you can. This will really hurt, but for only 5 or 6 seconds instead of the 30 seconds that a cramp normally takes to complete. Hold the push for about a minute, waiting for your breath to return to normal again. Then let go for a few seconds and then repeat the push. The second time won't hurt, you're just making sure that all of the fibers have completed their contraction.

Next you grab the calf muscle just below your knee joint and start to squeeze it and roll it, just like you were kneading bread dough. Work from the back of your knee to your ankle, all the while with the intention of lengthening the muscle toward your foot. This will feel wonderful so keep it up for a few minutes. You are forcing out the lactic acid that was just formed during the cramp and you are drawing in blood to the muscle fibers. The blood will nourish and heal the muscle.

After you finish this you can stretch the muscles. Be sure to do both the normal gastrocnemius stretch that everyone knows, and the soleus stretch where you bend your back knee while keeping your heel on the ground.

You'll be able to get back to running again after just a few minutes, and you won't be limping so you'll make up the lost time.

Wishing you well,
Julie Donnelly

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Thanx for this advice, I have cramps very often. I'm sure this will help.
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Hi,

I'm happy to help. There are so many things that I teach that help athletes, if you have any other aches or pains (LOL - what runner doesn't have aches and pains!?) feel free to ask. We can talk about topics such as Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, shinsplints, and lots more.

Wishing you well,
Julie Donnelly
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Thanks for this tip. Actually, I had pretty nasty cramp in my calf muscle yesterday and still feel some small needle-like pain. :(
I've tried to get rid of it with pulling my foot up, but obviously that didn't help.
Actually, it helped, but with sore calf. :(

Next time I'll try this technique you've posted.

Thanks again. :)
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Hi,

My pleasure, I like helping athletes because you are so determined to continue your sport. Hopefully you haven't experienced another cramp, but if you have, did you try the technique I mentioned for cramping yet?

Here's another hint. If you have calf spasms and/or Achilles tendonitis, the odds are your gastrocnemius or soleus are suffering from repetitive strain injuries. Let's say that you have pain in your right calf, you can treat it by putting your right calf directly onto your left knee cap. Put your hands on your right shin and press your calf into your knee cap, you'll feel a knot at the very center of your calf. This knot/spasm is pulling up on your AT and therefore pulling up on your heel. This constant tension can cause you to have a spur on your heel, and is often the cause of you being told you need orthotics to bring the floor up to your foot. You can bring your foot down to the floor (and avoid getting heel lifts) by pressing into the spasm and then pulling your right leg (in this example) up so your knee cap is sliding down the back of your right leg. I hope that isn't confusing, with pictures it would be easy to explain but I can't put a picture here.

If you have any specific aches and pains, please feel free to visit and I'll be happy to help you.

Wishing you well,
Julie Donnelly
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Sorry, I made a mistake and thought I could correct it. Instead I ended up posting twice. At least now I've learned my lesson and hope that won't happen again.

Wishing you well,
Julie Donnelly
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Thanks, quite a useful tips for starters
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My pleasure! I hope you'll visit my forum if you have any specific aches and pains.

Wishing you well,
Julie Donnelly
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Hello Julie,

I have visited your website and found it very helpful. I am a student athlete, and I have finally reached my senior year. However, I have also aquired a lot of pain in my soleus. I'm almost positive that it is RSI. If I am on my toes or run too much, I have to sit out for a couple of minutes so that the pain is relieved, which only lasts a couple minutes. I have so many knots in my soleus, and the only thing that seems to relieve the pain for a short amount of time is massaging them out. Unfortunately, they come right back. I would really like to play soccer in college, but they won't take me unless I am completely healthy. If you could just offer a little bit of advise that would help in any way, I would be forever in your debt. Thank you so much for your time.

Chelsea

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Julie!
I am so relieved to see your info on muscle cramping while running. I've been getting it off and on for about five years. It has almost stopped me from finishing a marathon! The most frustrating thing is I've been to the dr for it many times and they treat me like it's "just" a Charlie horse in the night! This is MUCH more, as you know. Even my blood tests come back "normal" as far as electrolytes. I am currently going through a bad cycle of muscle spasms that has now lasted about a week and it's stopped me from any form of exercise - I cramp even when I walk. I did a marathon a month ago, went through the entire training without any cramping, now here it is. I am so excited about your advice on how to stop the spasm while it is in full swing. THANKS soooo much!!! For once I feel like someone out there knows what I am going through (it's been suggested that the pain was "in my head"!!!)
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Awesome advice, I usually get nasty cramps on my thigh.
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Awesome thanks so much for the tip Julie this will come in handy.
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