How to Stretch a Thigh Cramp

Young man stretching thigh on steps, rear view

Muscle cramps are commonly-occurring, sudden involuntary movements, or contractions, of the muscles. While they’re generally harmless and typically dissipate within a few minutes, these cramps are often excruciatingly painful and can disable the affected muscles until they pass. Cramps typically involved the fronts and backs of the thighs, the quadriceps and hamstrings. These types of cramps are sometimes known as “charley horses.” You typically don’t need medical attention when you cramp up, just some simple stretching and common sense.

Stretching Front Thigh (Quadriceps) Cramps

For a front thigh cramp, stop what you’re doing, stand up and hold onto a support. Rub the cramping muscle for a few minutes to help relax it. Lift your foot and bend the knee of the affected leg. Grasp your foot with your hand from behind. Gently pull it backward and up, and try to touch it to your buttock. Stop pulling if you experience discomfort or pain. Hold your foot in that position for 10 to 20 seconds. Release it and lower your foot to the ground slowly. You’ll feel the front thigh muscles stretching.

Stretching Back Thigh (Hamstring) Cramps

To relieve a back thigh cramp, stop what you’re doing and rub it for a few minutes to help it relax. Sit down with both legs stretched out in front of you. Grab the ball of the foot of the affected leg with your hand and gently pull it toward your head. Keep your knee straight as you slowly lift the leg as high as you can without producing pain. Hold the position for 10 to 20 seconds. Release your foot and lower it gently to the ground. You’ll feel the back thigh muscle stretch and relax.

Apply Cold and Heat

Apply a cold pack to a persistently cramping thigh muscle for 20 minutes. This will help to relax it and to relieve some of discomfort. Remove the cold pack for 20 minutes. If you’re still cramping, repeat. If the muscle is still sore, apply a heating pad for 20 minutes or take a hot shower.

Hydration for Prevention

Drink plenty of water or sports drinks before, during and after exercising to help prevent thigh cramps. Exercising or playing a gam can cause you to become fatigued and dehydrated, often resulting in muscle cramps. Since your body can dehydrate before you realize it, consume fluids even when you don’t feel thirsty.

Prevention Stretching

Spend a few minutes stretching your thigh muscles before and after exercising them. Use the same techniques that you used for stretching cramps out of the muscles.

When to Seek Help

Thigh cramps rarely become serious enough to warrant medical attention. If you continue to experience them frequently and severely, and they don’t respond to your self-care efforts, consult your health care professional. Seek help for thigh cramps that don’t seem to be a result of obvious factors, such as muscle fatigue or rigorous exercising.