Most people’s first reaction when they get a Charley Horse* is to attempt to stretch the cramp, which in my opinion only makes matters worse. Think about it – a muscle cramp is an area of muscle that has suddenly contracted at full force. When you “stretch” it, or attempt to lengthen the muscle, it does not address the fact that the muscle fibers are already fully contracted. So, instead of lengthening or relaxing the cramp, the fully freaked out/contracted muscle fibers are now being tugged on, which can potentially increase the tissue injury, resulting in soreness.
The lingering soreness that can last a few days is a lovely reminder of the horrendous discomfort of the night before. But what if there was a way to alleviate the stiffness and soreness quickly?Well, of course there is!
The first thing to try and remember when it’s the middle of the night and you can’t move, is to NOT stretch the area. If it’s in your calf, instead of trying to flex your foot, try to point your toes. Think of going in the direction of the cramp and shortening the muscle length, as opposed to trying to pry it apart.
Afterwards, another way to address the lingering soreness is with your Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls. All you need is two Therapy Balls of any size (they don’t even need to match) to create a ball stack called the Calf Kebob.
1. Place one ball on the underside of the calf and one on top of the muscle, just behind the shin bone.
2. Use your hands to apply pressure to the top ball, attempting to meet the balls through the MEAT of your calf.
3. Depending on your sensitivity, you may be able to apply a considerable amount of pressure. If your calves are stiff you may need only to gently press the top ball (or not at all!).
4. Once the YTU Therapy Balls are pinned in place, point and flex your ankle to allow the calf muscle to slide between the kebob sandwich you’ve created.
5. For extra BONUS NINJA POINTS, add spin to the top ball as you apply your downward pressure. (This technique is called Pin/Spin/Mobilize)
The YTU Therapy Balls are perfect for this as their grippiness allows them to grab on to the deepest layers of calf muscle to restore sliding surfaces between layers. Ideally, we want our muscles and connective tissues to slide over one another like silk, but after a cramp, injury, or lack of movement, the silk morphs into Velcro, with sticky connective tissue adhesions between the layers. The Calf Kebob and the addition of the Pin/Spin/Mobilize allow you to efficiently restore the slipperiness and hydration you need to be silky on your insides.
Even if you haven’t had a Charley Horse, the Calf Kebob is an excellent way to alleviate stiffness in sore calves after a long day on your feet, hard workout, or if you’re a high heel wearer.
Give it a try! Did this help with your calf stiffness?
* FUN FACT: ‘Charley horse’ (sometimes misspelled ‘Charlie horse’) is an American phrase and originated in the sport of baseball. All the early citations of the phrase relate to baseball in some way or another. The earliest I can find is from The Fort Wayne Gazette, July 1887:
“Whatever ails a player this year they call it ‘Charley horse’. ‘Tom and Jerry horse’ would fit many cases.”
There are reports, which seem reliable but which I haven’t yet been able to confirm, that the phrase appears in ‘Sporting Life’ in 1886. The text of the item above would seem to indicate the phrase was coined around that time.