When a muscle is stretched beyond its normal range or suddenly tightened, it may go into apainful spasm - a cramp. Some examples:
• Person sleeping in bed awakens and stretches
• Calf muscle contracts violently, with a hard, tense knot in its centre
• Person sits in an awkward position, and a muscle suddenly cramps
• Person not accustomed to vigorous exercise gets leg cramps after a brisk walk
Massage the best treatment. Kneading the muscle and stretching it gently helps reduce the pain and end the spasm.Usually not a concern
If accompanied by other symptoms, cramps can sometimes indicate a more serious problem:
• Heat exhaustion, which also causes fainting and pale, cold skin.
• Some circulatory disorders, which cause cramps after walking.
Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.