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Why Are My Dancers' Calves Cramping?

I've got an advanced student who complains about pain and cramping in her calf muscles after class. She told me that she even wakes up at night with cramping. Why is this happening?

One reason for cramping is overexertion, which can spasm the calf muscle. When this happens, you need to release the tension by flexing the foot and massaging the calves. Further, remember that good muscle tone means having both flexibility and strength. Is there an imbalance between her muscles that point and the muscles that flex the foot? Check to see if the muscles on the back of her leg are too weak to do exercises like repeated relevés, and adjust accordingly.

The fact that she is cramping on a regular basis and at night makes me suspect she may be dehydrated or low on minerals. Mineral loss can happen with sweating, especially in hot weather. It's possible that increasing her water intake and adding a good vitamin/mineral supplement might help. If the cramping continues, I suggest she see her physician.

To your success,

Deborah Vogel

Director, The Body Series

Got a question for Deb? E-mail askdeb@dancemedia.com, and she may answer it in an upcoming web exclusive.

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