Probably the most common pain is the prolonged, continuous ache often felt in the neck and back. But, there is also the catch - a quick stabbing pain that causes you to wince or stop breathing for an instant. The latter is a sudden, hard, involuntary muscle contraction that lasts for a mere fraction of a second, but can be the precursor to more severe muscle spasms of prolonged duration. Stretching your legs in the morning may be all that's needed to start an episode of intense calf pain. A carpenter’s vise comes to mind.
Common Causes • • • • • • • • • • • • •
Muscle cramps and spasms can often be caused by injury, prolonged muscle activity, fatigue, nutritional deficiencies and dehydration. If the pain is limited to a partial area of the muscle, it is usually because a group of muscle cells fail to relax because of a local chemical imbalance on the cellular level. These are often referred to as trigger points, and can be felt as a lump inside the muscle tissue. They are tender to the touch and often refer pain to other parts of the body. Heel pain is often misdiagnosed for Plantar Fasciitis when in reality it is trigger points in the calf muscles referring pain to the heel.
The most common cause is over-use. Continuous muscle contraction reduces blood flow to the muscle which increases the retention of lactic acid. This is the same mechanism that causes pain from exercise in people with poor circulation.
How to eliminate the pain
Presuming that the pain is not originating from rare neurological problems, massaging the muscle will help it relax so blood, in needed quantities, can reach the muscle tissues to neutralize and carry away waste products built up in the muscle cells. Heat may also be soothing.
The problem with muscle overuse is that it is often job related, or even more problematic, posture related, so that sitting, standing and walking cause muscle over-use symptoms. When posture is poor, muscles from your feet to your head easily end up in overuse patterns and spasms. Your best bet is to improve your posture, and for most people that means improving their foot mechanics. Hyperpronating feet (collapsing arches and ankles rolling in) cause a chain of mechanical events to occur that implodes your posture. Once you stand and walk with improved posture, your postural muscles will work far less than they are currently forced to do.