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Why do I get calf muscle cramps?

There are many different causes for cramping in the calf muscles or lower leg. The causes vary from musculoskeletal, neurological or sometimes vascular. This post describes the most common causes of these cramps, and what you should do about it.

Could the cramping be musculoskeletal in nature?

Cramping or pain in the calf muscle can affect people of all ages or physical activity levels. When muscles undergo excessive repetitive use during vigorous activity, they can often fatigue, eliciting rapid contractions (i.e. "spasm"). Furthermore, cramping can occur at rest, often at night when one is asleep with feet flexing downwards where the calf is in a shortened position. Nocturnal cramping is more common in the elderly population.

This could be a sign that your calf muscles are not strong enough to handle the load of your daily activities, or they could be too tight! Our podiatrists will be able to prescribe you the appropriate footwear/orthotics, strengthening, stretching or rehabilitation protocols to alleviate and prevent your cramping.

Are you staying hydrated?

Studies have shown that water and electrolyte balance is essential in maintaining muscle and body function. When your body is dehydrated and lacking in essential electrolytes or minerals, your muscles (e.g. calf) becomes hyper-excitable and more prone to contractions. Not only is it important to drink plenty of water everyday, but ensure that you replenish your electrolytes!

Could it be your circulation?

In some cases, cramping, burning or pain in your calves/groin area could be a sign of poor circulation. This is called "claudication". Claudication often occurs during walking, but quickly resolves with rest after a few minutes. If this sounds like you, please ensure to consult one of our clinicians for further vascular testing.

Could there be a neurological causes for your cramping?

There are trillions of nerves in your body. When excited, some of these nerves induce muscle contractions. With various nerve-related conditions, abnormal activity or 'firing' of your nerves may result in cramping. Our podiatrist may perform preliminary examinations to exclude any nerve-involvement, and sometimes may refer you for further nerve-related studies.

Find out more

If you suffer from calf or lower limb cramping, please get in touch! Call on 08 9316 3010 or email at

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