Gastrocnemius muscle or as it is commonly referred to – “stomach of the leg” is a very important muscle of the body. It is located in the lower leg’s back portion and is one of the two major muscles of the calf of the leg. Other important calf muscle lies underneath the gastrocnemius muscle, which is named the soleus muscle.
Both these muscles meet at the Achilles tendon forming the thickest and most strong tendon found in human body. It is situated on the back part of the lower leg and is one of the two noteworthy muscles which forms the calf. Soleus is another important muscle that is under this gastrocnemius muscle. And the third one is Plantaris which lies near about two to four inches down the knee.
Medial head: medial condyle of femur and area above condyle.
Lateral head: lateral condyle of femur and area above condyle
Achilles tendon into mid-posterior calcaneus.
Functions of the gastrocnemius muscle
It is mainly due to the existence of this strong muscle in your body that you can do fast movements of the leg with an ease. Be it running, jumping or over straining your leg, this tough muscle is made to bear it all and not let your body understand the severity of your actions. In cases of activities that are comparatively slower, like gentle walking or standing – this muscle does not have any specific function to perform.
Gastrocnemius muscle Cramps and Strain
The most common type of muscular disorder is overstraining or cramps. Although gastrocnemius is one of the strongest muscle in the body but there are reasons that can cause obstacles in its proper functioning.
Causes of muscle strain and cramps
Cramps are generally harmless and affect you only for a really short period of time. If for some cause the blood vessels that supply blood to the lower portion of the body are narrowed, there is a chance that it can produce cramps. While exercising, or trying out a specific exercise for the first time – your body might not be well suited to it and as an obvious obstruction cause cramp in the muscles. Sometimes nerve compression can as well be the cause of the pain that causes cramp. Generally, the more you walk, the more is the pain. If your diet doesn’t have the proper amount of nutrition like potassium, sodium or calcium or any other minerals can be the cause of cramps. Patients taking medicine for treating high blood pressure often get cramps because the side effect of such medication is the depletion of minerals. Some other reasons can be
- Overstraining of muscle.
- Muscle strain due to the vulnerability of the body or weakness due to some other disease or exhaustion and fatigue.
- Sitting in a position for a prolonged period of time.
Symptoms of cramps
The identification of gastrocnemius tear is generally clinical. Cramps hardly require any special care or expert treatment. They appear and disappear almost on their own and are extremely short-lived to cause any major issue. However, the pain remains and it entirely depends on the habits of the person on how long would it stay or either get better or worse. Following are some of the possible symptoms which if visible, can be consulted by a doctor.
- Cause severe discomfort in leading a normal life.
- If the cramp causes noticeable inflammation in the leg, or produce redness or other changes in the normal skin – a doctor should at once be consulted.
- Other forms of weakness in the muscles.
- If the cramps occur quite frequently and without a known cause.
- In cases where you have already been careful and tried preventive measures as well as remedies to cure cramps.
- You do not find any obvious reason like the strenuous exercise of taking an unpracticed jump after a long time.
Who are more at risk with its consequences and suffering?
Cramps are such a normal thing which can occur to anyone anytime. But there are people of particular age groups, sex or profession who run high risks of its effects and that detail has been listed below.
- People of older age lose the general strength to carry on with works at a normal pace. Therefore they get overstressed with little work very easily. And can be affected by cramps.
- People who work in fields carry heavy loads, walk miles etc are always at risk of cramps.
- Athletes who run and perform under tremendous mental and physical strain get cramps easily due to exhaustion, fatigue, and dehydration.
- During pregnancy, the body nutrients and minerals get divided between the mother and the baby. As a result of which mothers often lack proper nutrients and are prone to cramps due to weakness.
- If anyone has a thyroid, nerve related disorders, diabetes, high pressure etc, they can more easily get cramps.
Home remedies for cramps
Cramps are most common in winter and especially during the night. They can happen anytime without prior symptoms or notice because even if your body is weak for any possible cause, it is hardly understandable to you that you might get cramps. You can obviously have painkillers or apply sprays like Volini but some home remedies can be adopted to prevent it’s coming back anytime sooner.
- Ice pack
As soon as you get a cramp, ask someone to provide you with an ice pack and apply it to the affected area for relief. Gradually you will notice the place losing its dull color and coming back to normalcy. The blood vessels which got obstructed and could not give a proper blood supply is back to being normal.
- Paste of turmeric and alum
Turmeric is one of the active agents to relieve pain while alum acts as a good support for proper and fluent blood supply in the vessels and gives a soothing effect to the existing pain. Apply the paste and keep it for ten minutes or so to get good effects.
- Warm compress
Take warm compress on the affected portion. This will increase the blood circulation and flexibility of the muscles. You can also try taking a warm bath for a longer effect.
- Wintergreen oil
Not known to many, but this medicated oil acts as a magic to untimely cramps due to the component methyl salicylate.