The Four Best Types of Massage For Runners

Which type of massage is best for runners?

It’s not surprising that runners get confused about what type of massage would benefit them most. Depending on where you look, there are over 30 different types of massage identified on the internet. Of course, some of these styles are obviously not specifically beneficial to athletes, but runners can go beyond the typical “sports massage” to get results. The following are the four most beneficial types of massages for runners:

Active Release Technique

Active Release Technique, commonly known as A.R.T., is massage technique that combines movement with specific, deep pressure to help relieve muscle adhesions and reduce scar tissue buildup.

During an A.R.T session, the therapist uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and mobility of the soft tissue and then works to break up these adhesions with their hands, as well as movement of the muscle.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is perhaps the most well known of the common massage modalities and is often associated with relaxation and pampering. However, Swedish massage can also benefit runners, especially before big competitions.

Swedish massage utilizes long, flowing strokes of various pressure, although usually light, to release muscle tension and increase blood flow.

Swedish massage is best used in the days before big competitions or as a recovery tool after hard workouts. The lighter, relaxing strokes help relieve stress and muscle tension without damaging the muscles, which is important if you have a big race on the horizon. A Swedish massage before a race, especially if you’re coming off a hard week of training, can help you reenergize, relax, and get your legs back under you.

Trigger Point

Trigger point therapy is a massage modality that targets muscle knots and areas of referred pain in the muscle tissue. Therapists target and find knots in the muscles or areas of referred pain and use deep pressure to help loosen the adhesions.

Like A.R.T., trigger point therapy is best used to treat injuries. Specifically, trigger point therapy is effective in the treatment of IT band tightness, calf strains, and hamstring injuries.

Deep Tissue Massage

Most runners are familiar with deep tissue massage, which is often confused with deep pressure (e.g., when you tell the therapist to “go harder”). Deep tissue massage targets both the superficial and deep layers of muscles and fascia and are often quite intense as a result of the deliberate, focused work.

Deep tissue massages typically focus on a few specific problem areas and, unlike trigger point therapy, work the entire muscle. Because runners often have tight spots and interconnected issues when volume and intensity are high, deep tissue massage is often the modality of choice during hard training segments.

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Top 10 Health Benefits Of Walking

Moderate physical activity is a must for those trying to lose weight. Walking is one of the easiest and most economical ways to do so. It is no wonder then, that it is one of the most preferred forms of exercises among people of all age groups. It is imperative for any form of exercise that is chosen in order to lose weight to be performed on a regular basis. It is for this reason that doctors and nutritionists highly recommend walking as a form of exercise as it can not only be a year round activity, but can also fit effortlessly into everyday life. A few other of the walking health benefits are given below.

Top 10 Health Benefits Of Walking:

1. Healthy Body: Walking daily can lift your mood and will make you physically strong. Just walk for half an hour a day and you can feel the difference yourself. Walking is the easiest way to have a healthy mind and body. It is a kind of aerobic fitness which is easy to do and provides many benefits.

2. Weight Control: Walking helps in keeping weight under control when followed by good and healthy diet. Scientists also say that even without changing diet habits, losing weight is possible if you’re walking for at least 45 minutes daily. Walking elevates heart rate and burns some calories which help in maintaining healthy weight. So, if you want to maintain your weight then do walk for at least 30-40 minutes daily and you’ll see the results soon.

3. Beat Breast Cancer: Walking for health atleast 45 minutes daily is also beneficial for breast cancer patients. Scientists say that people, who do exercise like walking every day, survive more than inactive people. Walking regularly also reduces woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. Walking alters the ratio of estrogen metabolites and makes it harder for breast cancer to take hold and that is why, it is really beneficial for ladies suffering from breast cancer.

4. Fight Diabetes: If you’re a diabetic patient and want to keep it under control, then walking can help you. Walking keeps your weight under control – which is the major cause of diabetes. Walking also involves utilization of more insulin, which improves blood sugar levels and thus it eventually helps in keeping diabetes under control and also reduces the risk of getting it. So, if you are a diabetic patient and want to control diabetics then walking can be a great and easy remedy for you. Moreover, if you’re not a diabetic patient then walking will reduce the risk of suffering from diabetes.

5. Healthy Heart: Walking is the easiest physical exercise and studies show that walking daily for 30-45 minutes can help in preventing heart diseases. Walking increases heart rate and strengthens heart which increases blood circulation through body and helps in making your heart healthy. Walking also lowers cholesterol levels which ultimately help in decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. So, to maintain a healthy heart you need to start doing physical activity like walking regularly.

6. Live Long: Scientist says that walking can prevent and delay osteoarthritis which is an age related condition and thus, it can add years to your life. It is also believed that walking 30 minutes can extend our life by 1.4 years. Amazing, right? Walking also prevents diseases which eventually gives us healthy and long life.

7. Prevents Miscarriage: This may sound a bit surprising but it’s true, walking during pregnancy reduces fatigue and related pains which reduces the risks of gestational diabetes. Walking also lowers hormonal fluctuations which cause uterine contractions and this helps in protecting against miscarriage. So, if you want to protect yourself from miscarriage then start indulging in physical fitness like walking which is easy to do.

8. Prevents Dementia: According to scientific studies, walking regularly can prevent dementia, which is a disease affecting brain function, memory, language and attention of human beings. Dementia is a very common problem especially for people above 65 years of age and thus walking regularly reduces the risk of dementia by up to 54 per cent.

9. Tones Body: Who doesn’t want a toned body? Walking regularly can help you in achieving toned legs, bum and tummy. Walking can give definitions to calves, quads and buttock muscles. You can also tone your abs with just walking, but for this, you need to take care of your walking posture too. Start walking religiously daily for at least 30 minutes from today only get toned body.

10. Provides Energy: Walking regularly provides energy to the body. This increases the blood circulation and oxygen supply. Walking is also considered an effective antidepressant which helps in dealing with depression. You can walk with your friends in group and chit-chat while walking. Isn’t it a great way to start a day? So, reduce your stress and anxiety by enjoying your walk with your friends.

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How You Can Effectively Treat Frozen Shoulder (Capsulitis)

Frozen shoulder affects the joint capsule – a water tight compartment that holds the synovial fluid of the glenohumeral joint. A build up of scar tissue forms within and around the joint capsule, and restricts the shoulder’s physical ability to move without pain. Some of the tissue that surrounds the capsule forms two ligaments called the coracohumeral ligament and the glenohumeral ligament.

When you injure your shoulder you experience pain and stop moving it. However, this lack of movement is thought to allow the scar tissue to accumulate within the joint capsule as the damaged tissue heals. This is the reason that physical therapy and other means to reduce scare tissue are so important in recovery of all shoulder ailments or surgeries.

What confuses medical professionals is that some people who develop frozen shoulder have no other conditions. It starts as a stiffness in the shoulder, and progresses into pain and loss of ROM (range of motion) within the shoulder joint. Because of the pain and stiffness, the sufferer uses the shoulder less making the condition worse.

One of the most common, yet least often diagnosed causes of Frozen Shoulder Syndrome is myofascial trigger points in the muscles around the shoulder. Trigger points are knots or tender areas that form in overworked or injured muscles and which lead to pain and loss of mobility. Many people don’t think of Frozen Shoulder Syndrome as a particularly serious condition, but if you’ve actually suffered from it and have been unable to do everyday tasks such as getting yourself dressed, or have been in too much pain to sleep, it’s not something to be taken lightly.

A frozen shoulder is a persistently painful stiffness of the shoulder joint, which can sometimes lead to complete loss of movement. As well as a great deal of pain, people that suffer from frozen shoulder syndrome often experience a real loss of independence; imagine not being able to reach up to put on your seatbelt, never mind actually drive a car.

What Causes Frozen Shoulder Syndrome?

The tissue around the shoulder joint is known as a capsule. This is fully stretched when your arm is above your head, and hangs down when the arm is lowered. Many doctors believe that a frozen shoulder is caused by a thickening, swelling and tightening of this capsule of tissue, perhaps caused by scar tissue, which leaves little space for the bone of the upper arm to move in the shoulder socket, restricting movement and causing pain.

Frozen shoulder syndrome occurs in three phases:

Stage 1: The freezing or painful phase

Adhesive capsulitis causes pain and the shoulder to become immobile, or frozen. During this stage you develop pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. As the pain increases, movement becomes more difficult and the shoulder is used less. Often your back and neck muscles start to ache as they work harder to compensate for fewer shoulder movements. This stage can last from a few weeks to a few months.

Stage 2: The frozen or stiffening phase

In the next stage, you will notice that the stiffness remains but the pain does not become worse and may even start to decline. This stage usually lasts anywhere from 4 months to nearly a year.

Stage 3: The thawing phase

Finally, you will find that the full range of movement begins to return to the shoulder joint. This stage usually takes a minimum of 5 more months but may take as long as 2 years.

Muscles Where Trigger Points Can Develop

The shoulder joint is very complex because it is designed to move in so many directions. There are around twenty muscles involved in shoulder movement and trigger points can develop in any of these.

A trigger point in one muscle puts increased strain on the other muscles as they try to compensate, meaning that they also develop trigger points. As each of the muscles that take part in shoulder movement develop their own trigger points, pain will spread around the shoulder area and movement will become more and more restricted.

Muscles that will most commonly develop trigger points leading to a frozen shoulder are the four rotator cuff muscles:

  • Subscapularis
  • Teres Minor
  • Infraspinatus
  • Supraspinatus

One of the difficult things about myofascial trigger points is that the pain can be referred from a muscle somewhere else in the body. With Frozen Shoulder Syndrome it would seem logical to focus on the muscles in the shoulder, but actually the pain could be caused by trigger points in muscles in the upper back, neck, chest or shoulder.

Exercises for Frozen Shoulder Syndrome

Stretching and exercising for a frozen shoulder should be done with caution, as it may just injure the muscles further, worsening trigger points and increasing pain and stiffness. Identifying and massaging out the trigger points causing the problem is essential before stretching and exercise is attempted.

Frozen shoulder syndrome is often treated with painkillers or corticosteroid injections, and sometimes even surgery. However, in many cases, trigger point massage by an experienced trigger point therapy provider such as Balance in Motion can greatly relieve and often completely cure Frozen Shoulder.

Once you have started therapy, you can aid your recovery by following an exercise regimen at home:

Back Shoulder Stretch. In a standing position, try to rest the hand of the problem arm on the opposite shoulder. Place the unaffected hand on the elbow of the problem arm and very gently pull it towards you. Hold for a few seconds, release and repeat five times.

Pendulum Swing. In a standing position, place your unaffected hand on the edge of a table and lean forward, letting your problem arm hang down vertically. Swing the arm forward and backward, side to side, and around in circles in both directions. Repeat each movement five times.

Umbrella Push. Sit down with your elbows into your sides, holding an umbrella in both hands out in front of you. Use your unaffected arm to push your problem arm so it turns outwards, keeping the elbow of your problem arm tucked into your side. Return to centre and repeat five times.

Hand Behind Back. In a standing position, hold your problem arm around the wrist behind you with your unaffected hand. Gently stretch the problem arm towards the opposite buttock and then slide it gently upwards as far as possible. Release and repeat five times. This is a more advanced exercise for when movement begins to return.

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9 Tips On How To Soothe Sore Muscles After A Workout

Find out how to soothe sore muscles after exercising so that you can get on with life! You don’t have to be bed or couch ridden once you’ve completed an awesome workout. There are some things you can do to ease your sore muscles so that you can get back into the daily routine without too much pain.

1. Take out your tennis ball

Give yourself a good massage in the area that’s most affected. Rolling a tennis ball over your sore muscles helps to reduce the buildup of cytokines produced by your body while increasing the muscle’s mitochondria level so that it can extract oxygen easier. If you don’t happen to have a tennis ball handy, use the palm of your hands, your knuckles and thumbs to help work out any muscle tightening deep in the tissues. Massage below and above the area and then work towards the center of the sore muscle.

2. Try some gentle stretches

After a workout your muscles are full of lactic acid. When you stretch them out it helps to release this acid faster. The stretching should not be done as an exercise but rather as a gentle set of stretches that help to relieve some of the tension. Slow and easy as it goes. You don’t want to add any further stress to your muscles; you just want to help them relax.

3. Tart cherries – reduce the inflammation naturally

According to a study that was done by the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, Tart cherries contain a special antioxidant called anthocyanins. This ingredient is believed to reduce inflammation and pain. Stock up on tart cherry juice – it offers fast relief for sore muscles.

4. Your muscles want protein

After a good workout your muscles are begging for protein. Supply them with natural protein sources such as granola, lentils, nuts, poultry, lean meats and fish. Let the healing begin!

6. The cold treatment

You’re going to run into conflicting data when you’re searching for how to relieve muscle pain. While some experts advocate taking a hot bath, others suggest the application of ice. Overall, heat will make you feel better in the short term but will only offer temporary relief. You’re much better off reaching for an ice pack to speed healing and to prevent any further muscle damage from occurring. For all-over body stiffness you may want to consider taking a cool bath – if you can stand it!

7. Pain medication – the natural way

We have all heard the warnings about taking too many non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil and Motrin. There are other natural herbs that can reduce pain and inflammation that you may want to consider instead. Garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, white willow bark and many other natural herbs and spices can work wonders as both topical applications and as consumable ingredients. Before reaching for a pain reliever, do some research about the wonderful gifts that nature has provided to us that work just as well or even better in many cases.

8. Get hydrated – fast!

Your muscles are craving water following a workout and you may have to drink an electrolyte drink as well to get properly hydrated. Water, water and more water will help your muscles heal faster and keep you feeling energized.

9. Don’t overdo things

After you’ve had your workout, be careful not to strain or overdo things. If someone asks you to lift a heavy box ask somebody else to do it instead or let the person know that you will do it later. Avoid any activities that are too straining on the body to give your muscles the time they need to heal. You don’t need to lie down on the couch all day but you shouldn’t engage in any physical activities that are going to place a lot of stress on the muscles that you’ve been busy working out.

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Running in the Heat Safely

Match your workout to the weather by slowing down during exercise and seeking shade afterward. Check out these tips to beat the heat:

Pick sunrise or sunset. Your best bet on a hot day is to head out in the early morning or evening, when your shadow is twice as long as you are tall. According to The Weather Network, exposure to direct sunlight can increase how hot it feels by as many as 15 degrees.

Mind the 90-degree line. When the mercury is above 90 — the temperature of the surface of your skin — you’ll gain heat from the air around you, and your body heat will have nowhere to go. At that tipping point, you’ll sweat more and your body temperature will rise rapidly, making you more susceptible to heat-related illness. Go easy or go inside.

Bottom’s up! Stay well hydrated throughout the day by drinking at least eight cups of water, then make sure to have eight to 12 ounces about 15 minutes prior to your run. Sip three to eight ounces every 15 or 20 minutes as you run, and don’t forget to drink after your workout.

Field the heat.Rule number one before you run: Check the heat index — a combination of air temperature and humidity — rather than your thermometer to get a better idea of the real feel outside. (At 70 percent humidity, an 29-degree day can feel as if it’s 32.) Also, the more humid it becomes, the less your sweat evaporates from your skin, meaning your body’s key cooling mechanism is disabled. To run sun smart, determine the day’s heat index (see the Weather Network), then follow the guidelines below.

Higher than 40 degrees: No-brainer: Move it indoors, because you’re at severe risk of heat-related illness, including heatstroke. (A 38-degree day with just 40 percent humidity will feel like 43 degrees.)

Between 33 and 39 degrees: Exercise early in the morning, when it’s coolest, and keep your workout superlight.

Between 27 and 32 degrees: Keep workouts shorter than usual and moderate.

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Muscle Loss with Age – If you Don’t Use it You Will Lose It!

Aging is usually linked with a gradual loss of muscle strength and muscle mass, causing fragility, falls, functional decline, and a general feeling of weakness and loss of function for life’s tasks and enjoyments. A recent study evaluated whether masters competition athletes who engage in high levels of regular exercise also lose muscle mass and strength as they get older. The question for this study was whether the decline in muscle mass is inevitable with age, or was it a consequence of a sedentary less active lifestyle? Perhaps muscles waste away if they are not used in old age?

Many previous research studies had showed that most people over 40 years of age, generally lose about 8% or more of their muscle mass every 10 years. The rate of muscle loss increases to about 15% after the age of 70 years. Losing muscle mass generally leads to a decline in strength, accidents, mobility and eventually loss of independence.

Loss of Calcium from bones also occurs with age and exercise helps to delay this loss as well.

The combined effect of weakened muscles and bones is an increased rate of falls and bone breakages.

There is growing evidence that master athletes, many of whom train four to five times every week, may not show the same loss of total lean muscle mass and loss of strength compared to those who live a more sedentary lifestyle.

Master athletes and those who work out at the gym continue to maintain a good quality of life and their functional capacity throughout their lives as the get older.

It is an assumption that growing old leads to an inevitable decline from vitality and activity to frailty and a sedentary lifestyle.

This includes feeling generally weak, and unsteady, lacking self-confidence, loss of function and often the loss of independence.

These losses may be more related to lifestyle choices, including lack of exercises, sedentary living, depression and poor nutrition, than the loss of muscle and bone through the aging processes.

Studying master athletes may show whether muscle decline is inevitable as people get older, or is it a simple consequence of people becoming less active as they get older.

Perhaps regular exercise may help to preserve both muscle mass and strength. If you don’t use it you lose it!

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Tips for Living with High Foot Arches

High foot arches are surprisingly common, but they can create problems for people who do not know how to best live with them or perhaps do not even realize that they have high arches. High foot arches do not support the body properly and tend to place excess pressure on the pelvis, which can eventually result in postural problems. High arches can be the result of a congenital abnormality, trauma, or sometimes even a neurological disorder.

Do I have high arches?

If you have any concerns about your feet, then a visit to your local podiatrist is always a good idea. Your podiatrist will be able to determine if you need a particular type of shoe , over-the-counter insert, or custom orthotic to support your foot. An easy way to check whether you have high arches is to look at your footprint any time you are in bare feet. If your footprint shows a curved, narrow print with only a thin strip connecting the heel and ball of the foot, then you probably have high arches.

What are the common problems resulting from high arches?

The biggest problem for people with high arches is that their foot tends to supinate, or roll outwards, while walking or running. This can lead to pain while walking or running as the high arches are not supporting the body correctly; the side of the foot makes contact with the ground first and normal pronation does not occur. If you are not sure whether your foot supinates when you walk you only need to take a look at a pair of shoes that you have worn for a while. If your shoes have more wear on the outside than on the inner edge of the shoe, then you know that your feet roll outwards as you walk.

If you do have this problem, there are a few things you can do to make your life easier:

  • Try to maintain your ideal body weight. Being overweight can cause problems for anyone but as high arches do not support the body properly supported the problem is worse for those with this condition.
  • Buy stable shoes with good arch support. The pain you experience after walking or running can be reduced by distributing your body weight evenly – cushioning your feet with arch supports will help to spread out the weight.
  • If none of these options help to relieve the pain you experience then it may be helpful to purchase an orthotic insert to address your issue.
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Are Foam Rollers for Muscle Massage Really Beneficial?

Over recent years, foam rollers have sprouted like flowers in spring. Media reports have celebrated the use of these rollers and other aids for promoting a type of self-administered massage therapy called “self-myofascial release.” This soft tissue therapy for the treatment of skeletal muscle immobility and pain purportedly soothes muscle soreness, increases range of motion, and even improves athletic performance.

Now scientists have begun to test these claims with controlled trials.

A recent review of the published literature and studies presented at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) 62nd Annual Meeting challenge assertions about the increased performance benefits of self-myofascial release. But they do support self-myofascial release as way of improving range of motion.

Self-Myofascial Release vs Massage Therapy

In self-myofascial release, people massage their own soft tissue. Researchers have supposed that this technique might produce some of the same benefits shown in myofascial release that is administered by physical therapists.

One theory is that fasciae tighten as a protective mechanism in response to trauma. Over time, collagen becomes more dense and fibrous, and elastin—a highly elastic protein in connective tissue—becomes less resilient. This can reduce muscle functioning and cause pain. Myofascial release, in this theory, whether self-administered or administered by someone trained in the technique, might reverse this process.

In addition, some research suggests that injury, disease, inactivity, and inflammation may cause fibrous adhesions to form in muscle tissue, also limiting its normal functioning. Myofascial release could break these adhesions.

Studies in myofascial release suggest that it can change a muscle’s viscoelastic properties, increasing mitochondria biogenesis and blood flow. Other potential effects might include changes in tissue gene expression, limb circumference, circulating neutrophil counts, and improved mood.

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9 Surprising Foods that Fight Pain

What do a cup of coffee, a bowl of beans, and a couple of ibuprofen have in common? Surprising answer: They all reduce pain. Popping a pill may be easier, but it does nothing to cure the underlying cause of your pain like eating the right foods can do. The number of foods proven to offer relief is growing. Here are six common aches and pains and the foods that help fight them.

Achy joints

Food Rx: Cherries, turmeric

Here’s sweet news: Preliminary research suggests that eating about 20 tart cherries may be as effective as taking ibuprofen for reducing pain. In a more recent study, eating about 45 cherries a day reduced C-reactive protein, a major marker of inflammation associated with arthritis, by 25%. Likewise, the spice turmeric contains curcumin, a compound that in one study eased pain as well as ibuprofen did in people with knee osteoarthritis.

Sore Muscles

Food Rx: Ginger

Walking like a cowboy after that set of squats? Sip ginger tea. In a recent study, people who lifted weights experienced 25% less post-workout pain 24 hours after consuming ginger (about half a teaspoon a day for 11 days) than those taking a placebo. Researchers credit gingerols, antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving properties.


Food Rx: Beans

While fiber giveth (gas), it also taketh away (acid reflux). A study in the journal Gut found that people who regularly ate high-fiber foods like beans were 20% less likely to report GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) symptoms, probably because fiber moves food out of the stomach faster and prevents reflux.

Digestive Pain

Food Rx: Peppermint, coconut

The menthol in fresh peppermint and peppermint tea acts as a carminative (a compound that relieves gas and bloating) and a muscle relaxer, which can help relieve the cramping and spasms associated with occasional intestinal distress and full-blown IBS. For diarrhea, it’s suggested to eat 1 to 3 teaspoons of shredded unsweetened coconut, which has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

PMS Cramps

Food Rx: Nuts

Your body may be telling you that you need brownies, but opt for trail mix when that PMS funk hits. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with the highest intakes of riboflavin from foods such as almonds were more than a third less likely to develop PMS, including cramps and brain fog, than those who had the lowest intakes. Foods high in vitamin B6, such as pistachios, can also help reduce irritability, cramps, and fluid retention associated with PMS.


Food Rx: Coffee, pumpkin seeds

Your pounding head is often a result of dilated, or enlarged, blood vessels in your brain. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee can help constrict blood vessels and ease the pain; they also make painkillers work better so you can reduce your dose. But if you have the mother of all headaches—a migraine—you may be deficient in magnesium and could benefit from foods rich in this nutrient, such as pumpkin seeds. Magnesium helps calm the overexcited nerves and tense muscles that contribute to migraine pain. (It’s also one of the best foods for your heart.)

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The Mystery of Foot Cramps Explained

Muscle cramps (including the foot) are extremely common; in fact, according to, it is estimated that 95 percent of people experience a muscle cramp at some time in their life! There are many causes and treatments of muscle cramps, so if you are interested in learning more, keep reading!

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons defines a muscle cramp as an involuntary and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax. Cramps can affect any muscle under voluntary control (skeletal muscle). Cramps can involve part or all of a muscle, or several muscles in a group. Cramps of the extremities, especially the legs and feet, and most particularly the calf, are extremely common. Other common areas for muscle cramps include: back and front of the thigh, hands, arms, abdomen, and rib cage muscles.

So, who gets cramps? Like I said earlier, statistics show that just about everyone will get some type of muscle cramp during their lifetime. They can come at any time too, with exercise or activity, or even when at rest or during sleep. Sometimes all it takes is the slightest movement that shortens a muscle to trigger a cramp (in your case, pointing your toes in Pilates shortens the muscles of the arch of your foot, which seems to trigger the cramps). According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, some people are predisposed to muscle cramps and get them regularly with any physical exertion. Muscle cramps are very common among endurance athletes who perform strenuous physical activity. Those at greatest risk are people over age 65, those who are ill, overweight, overexert during work or exercise, or take certain medications.

Common causes of muscle cramps include: overuse of a muscle, dehydration, depletion of salt and minerals (electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium and calcium), muscle strain/injury, or simply holding a position for a prolonged period of time. Another type of common muscle cramp is a nocturnal or rest cramp, which happens in your calf or toe muscles when you are resting or sleeping. However, the exact cause of muscle cramps remains unknown, although some researchers believe inadequate stretching and muscle fatigue leads to abnormalities in mechanisms that control muscle contraction.

In terms of treatment for muscle and foot cramps, you can generally treat muscle cramps with self-care measures, and most cramps can be stopped if the muscle can be stretched. For many cramps of the feet and legs, this stretching can be done by simply standing up and walking around. Typically, you want to try and gently stretch the muscle away from the cramping position and hold it there until the cramp goes away. Gently massaging the muscle will often help it to relax, as will applying warmth from a heating pad or hot/warm soak. If the muscle cramp is associated with fluid loss, as usually is the case with physical activity, fluid and electrolyte replacement is essential. There are a few steps you can take to prevent muscle cramps. Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of liquids every day and during physical activity, replenish fluids at regular intervals and continue hydration after you’re finished. Also, stretch your muscles before and after you use any muscle for an extended period. If you have night cramps, stretch the affected muscles before bedtime.

Although most muscle cramps are benign, sometimes they can be an indication of a more serious medical condition. You should see your physician or medical health professional if the cramps are severe in nature, happen frequently, are persistent, fail to respond to simple treatments, or are not related to obvious causes like exercise or injury. You could have problems with circulation, nerves, metabolism, hormones, or nutrition. However, it is uncommon for muscle cramps to occur as the result of a medical condition without other obvious signs that the medical condition is present.

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