Whether you barely notice them at all or they cause you severe discomfort, leg twitches can be an annoying sensation. After a long walk, these muscle spasms are probably the last thing you want to deal with, so what gives? There are several underlying reasons that could be responsible for your post-walk leg twitches, but fortunately, there are also a few methods for stopping them through treatment and prevention.
Leg twitches are a form of muscle cramping, which is a sudden and involuntary contraction of the muscle. These can happen virtually anywhere in the body, but the legs are the most prone to cramps. The calves and thighs in particular are the most likely areas to be affected. Though cramps will happen to most everyone at some time in their life, some people are more susceptible to experiencing them. Athletes or people who participate in strenuous physical activities are one such group, and even though walking is a low-impact form of exercise, long walks can exacerbate cramps or twitches.
The exact cause of muscle cramps and twitching is unknown, but there are a few factors that may be responsible. For people without any diseases or health issues, twitching may be the result of muscle fatigue, improper stretching, inactivity or vigorous exercise. Dehydration from excessive sweating or improper fluid intake may cause twitching, and low levels of electrolytes, such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, may also contribute to the uncomfortable sensation.
While mild forms of leg twitching usually do not require any treatment, if the sensation is too much to ignore, there are a few actions you can take. If the twitching starts during your walk, stop the activity immediately or as soon as possible. You can also try massaging the area gently or stretching the muscle to counter the contraction. Don't stretch and release repeatedly; rather, hold the stretch until the twitching ceases. If this does not work, apply heat to tight or tense spots and use a cold pack on places that are sore.
Perhaps the best way to avoid uncomfortable leg twitching after long walks is take a few preventative measures. This includes drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day, avoiding eating just prior to exercise and limiting your caffeine consumption. You can also try a few gentle stretches targeting your leg muscles before and after walking. Try a calf stretch by leaning forward with your hands on a wall and one leg in front of the other. Bend the front leg at the knee, but keep the back leg straight with your heel on the ground to feel the stretch in your calf. Stretch your hamstrings by sitting with your legs extended straight in front of you and slowly bending at the waist and reaching toward your feet. Stand tall for quad stretches and bend at the knee to bring one foot behind you toward your rear. Hold your foot in place with your hand, holding onto a chair or other object to balance yourself if necessary.