Diabetes Self-Management Blog

If you have diabetes, you may be all too familiar with the annoying phenomenon of waking from a sound sleep with a cramp in your calf. According to Karen Kemmis, PT, DPT, MS, CDE, writing on the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Blog, these cramps can arise for a variety of reasons, including dehydration, potassium deficiency, neuropathy (nerve damage), or muscle overuse.

Although it is best if the cause of a person’s nighttime calf cramps can be determined and addressed, Kemmis notes that this is not always possible. In these cases, she has found that routinely stretching the calf muscles before going to bed often substantially reduces the number of cramps reported by her patients.

The stretch Kemmis suggests is known as a “standing gastrocnemius stretch” and involves placing your hands against a wall at shoulder height with the leg to be stretched behind you (with the toes facing forward and the heel on the floor), leaning forward (with the front leg bent and the back leg straight) until you feel a stretch in the calf. Kemmis recommends holding the stretch for 30 seconds without bouncing and doing one to two repetitions with each leg before going to bed.

For more detailed instructions on how to do the calf stretch, including images, see the piece “Those Annoying Calf Cramps” on the AADE Blog.

This blog entry was written by Web Editor Diane Fennell.

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