A muscle cramp can be very painful. They are very common and can last between a few minutes up to 15 minutes. They are especially common with the leg muscles.
A cramp happens when there is a spasm in the muscle and it contracts becoming harder and tighter. You do not have control over you muscle when this happens. The muscle can become very tender for up to 24 hours. Cramps are more common as you increase in age. A third of people over 60 usually complain about cramps.
The main factors which contribute to cramps are poor muscle flexibility, fatique, dehydration and mineral depletion.
Cramps can easily be soothed by gently massaging it one hand. Stretching the muscle or applying heat or cold can also help. Make sure to drink plenty of water to make sure your muscles are properly hydrated.
Keep the affected area moving gently with light exercising.