Health & Wellness

6 Stretches to Help With Muscle Spasms

Tame tension and tightness in your shoulders, back, calf, and legs with these exercises you can do anywhere, anytime.

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By 

Hallie Levine,   

Mar 18, 2020 • 3 min read

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If you suffer from shoulder, back, or leg pain, you may also deal with spasms—sudden, involuntary contractions of one or more of these muscles. This can be extremely painful, leaving you desperate to find relief, stat. While your doctor may have prescribed you medication, such as cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) or baclofen, to help treat your pain, doing some light daily stretches to loosen the area can also provide relief, says Alex Tauberg, DC, a chiropractor in Pittsburgh, PA. Here are five stretches for common spasm sites that may help you rely less on your medication over time.

For Shoulder Spasms: Crossover Arm Stretch

While standing, relax your shoulders and gently pull one arm across your chest, holding your upper arm. Stay in the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Complete three sets on each side.

For Lower Back Spasms: Supine Hamstring Stretch

Lie on the floor on your back, both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Wrap your hands around the back of your right thigh and straighten your knee (trying to point your foot up toward the ceiling) until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds before returning to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat, aiming for three sets on each side.

For Lower Back Spasms: Wig Wags

Start on your back on the floor with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms out to the side with palms facing down. Turn your knees out to the right until you feel a gentle stretch in your lower back. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side. Complete three sets on each side.

For Sciatica Spasms: Supine Piriformis Stretch

Begin on your back on the floor, crossing the leg of the affected sciatica side over the other so that you form a figure four, ankle on opposite knee. Pull knee toward your body, hold for 30 seconds, and repeat. Complete three sets on each side (even if you have pain on only one side).

You can also do this stretch seated: Cross the affected leg over the other leg in the same figure four shape, leaning forward for 30 seconds, suggests Allen Conrad, DC, a chiropractor at Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, PA.

For Leg or Foot Spasms: Calf or Towel Stretch

If you have a cramp in your calf (commonly called a charley horse), stand with your palms placed against a wall, arms stretched out. Step back with the affected leg, while leaning forward on the other leg and pushing against the wall. Hold for 30 seconds.

For foot cramps, try a towel stretch. Sit down with your legs outstretched in front of you, and flex your painful foot so the toes are pointed toward the ceiling. Now take a towel and wrap it under the ball of your foot with both hands and lift the leg slightly. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat for three sets on each side.

Most muscle spasms are benign and go away on their own, but they sometimes signal a more serious condition, says Tauberg. If your spasms don’t resolve after a couple minutes of stretching or happen frequently, talk to your doctor to make sure you don’t have an undiagnosed heart or neurologic condition that’s triggering these symptoms. If you’re already on medication to help treat muscle spasms, see if you can get your prescription for less through Blink Health.

Illustrations by Triona Moynihan

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This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.

Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 1407 Broadway, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10018, (844) 366–2211, www.blinkhealth.com

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