Peripheral artery disease, also known as PAD, occurs when a build up of fatty deposits in the arteries restrict blood supply to the leg muscles, causing an ache in the legs.
It can occur when people walk, climb stairs and exercise.
The condition can be caused by smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but experts also claim it can be triggered by an unhealthy diet and being overweight.
The pain affects the calf muscles, thighs or buttocks and goes away after a few minutes and many dismiss it as the aches and pains of old age.
Now experts have revealed simple stretching exercises can reduce cramps and help people suffering with PAD.
They said it can also help people suffering with the condition to walk further without having to stop to rest.
The charity Circulation Foundation estimates up to a tenth of Britons are affected by the incurable condition – but will only cause symptoms or problems in a quarter.
The risk increases as you get older, and men tend to develop the condition more often than women.
Exercise and medicine to treat the underlying causes are often recommended by GPs.
A new study found simple calf muscle stretching reduces pain when walking and increase blood flow.
Dr Judy Muller-Delp, Professor of biomedical science, at the Florida State University College of Medicine said: “This is a very safe, easy intervention that can be done at home and has the potential to really improve your tolerance for walking and get you into a walking programme.”
She explained if there is a blood-flow blockage due to plaque buildup, the muscles don’t get enough blood during exercise to meet the needs.
The pain – which is called intermittent claudication – is the muscles’ way of warning the body that it isn’t receiving enough blood during exercise to meet the increased demand.
Six women and seven men with an average age 71 were analysed in the study. Experts said most were taking a statin drug and anti-platelet medications.
They were instructed to passively…