Enjoy the gains of working out without the annoying muscle cramps and stop your wincing with these simple tricks from top physical therapist Bill Hartman.

Don’t Stretch

Weird right but cramps are caused by your muscles contracting uncontrollably, and your natural reaction when a cramps sets in is to try to stretch your way out of it.

Resist the urge to elongate the muscle, as stretching will only put your muscle through more strain, which could lead to more pain.

You should be…


Leverage an intelligent approach: reciprocal inhibition (RI) – the process of muscles on one side of a joint relaxing to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint. RI is a nervous system phenomenon that you can activate yourself.

When you contract the muscle on one side of a joint hard enough, the opposing muscle, which is the cramping one, in this case will stop firing; which will ease the cramp.

Look out for these most common cramps, so the next time you are struck with one, put RI into action with these moves.

Cramp: Bottom of your foot

Your move: Lift your toes toward your shin.


Cramp: Calf

Your move: Bend your ankle, bringing your foot toward your shin.


Cramp: Hamstring

Your move: Sitting or standing, fully extending your lower leg.


-Alice Paulse