Muscle Cramps and Muscle Spasm Remedies
Muscle spasms (which happen most commonly in the feet and calves) can hit you, and normally at the most inconvenient times too! Though they might give your colleagues a giggle as you hop around the office grasping at your ankle, they can be rather exhausting.
Such spasms can be caused by a range of factors, such as tiredness or overuse, particularly if the muscle has been in the same position for a while (and with most people in sedentary jobs, that is a risk!), as the muscle cell is running out of steam and thus forcefully contracting.
Using the same muscle(s) again and again in regular activities, like working in front of the computer, for instance – can give you spasms in the neck, shoulder and back.
Exercise, chronic back or neck pain, menstrual cramps and a variety of other conditions can potentially lead to pesky muscle spasms. Sometimes they go away in a matter of minutes – sometimes the tightness and pain linger.
A muscle cramp is a sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more of your muscles.
If you've ever been awakened in the night or stopped in your tracks by a sudden charley horse, you know that #musclecramps can cause severe pain. Though generally harmless, muscle cramps can make it temporarily impossible to use the affected muscle.
Long periods of exercise or physical labour particularly in hot weather, can lead to muscle cramps. Some medications and certain medical conditions may also cause muscle cramps. Muscle cramps are extremely common, and nearly everyone experiences a cramp at some time in their life. Any of the muscles that are under our voluntary control (skeletal muscles) can cramp. Cramps of the extremities, especially the legs and feet and most particularly the calf (the classic #charleyhorse, are very common. Cramps are common in adults and become increasingly frequent with ageing. However, children also experience cramps. You usually can treat muscle cramps at home with self-care measures.
Symptoms of muscle cramps
Most muscle cramps develop in the leg muscles, particularly in the calf. Besides the sudden, sharp pain, you might also feel or see a hard lump of muscle tissue beneath your skin.
Causes of muscle cramps
Overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or simply holding a position for a prolonged period can cause a muscle cramp. In many cases, however, the cause isn't known.
Although most muscle cramps are harmless, some may be related to an underlying medical condition, such as:
Inadequate blood supply. Narrowing of the arteries that deliver blood to your legs (arteriosclerosis of the extremities) can produce cramp-like pain in your legs and feet while you're exercising. These cramps usually go away soon after you stop exercising.
Nerve compression. Compression of nerves in your spine (lumbar stenosis) also can produce cramp-like pain in your legs. The pain usually worsens the longer you walk. Walking in a slightly flexed position — such as you would use when pushing a shopping cart ahead of you — may improve or delay the onset of your symptoms.
Mineral depletion. Too little potassium, calcium or magnesium in your diet can contribute to leg cramps. Diuretics — medications often prescribed for high blood pressure — can also deplete these minerals.
Factors that might increase your risk of muscle cramps include:
Age. Older people lose muscle mass, so the remaining muscle can get overstressed more easily.
Dehydration. Athletes who become fatigued and dehydrated while participating in warm-weather sports frequently develop muscle cramps.
Pregnancy. Muscle cramps also are common during pregnancy.
Medical conditions. You might be at higher risk of muscle cramps if you have diabetes, or nerve, liver or thyroid disorders.
The best way to prevent cramps is to HYDRATE, STRETCH and MASSAGE your muscles and to eat enough KEY NUTRIENTS
These steps may help prevent cramps:
Avoid dehydration. Drink plenty of liquids every day. The amount depends on what you eat, your sex, your level of activity, the weather, your health, your age and the medications you take. Fluids help your muscles contract and relax and keep muscle cells hydrated and less irritable. During the activity, replenish fluids at regular intervals, and continue drinking water or other fluids after you're finished.
Stretch your muscles. Stretch before and after you use any muscle for an extended period. If you tend to have leg cramps at night, stretch before bedtime. Light exercise, such as riding a stationary bicycle for a few minutes before bedtime, also may help prevent cramps while you're sleeping.
Foods that help with muscle cramps and key nutrients. Like potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. They’re called electrolytes, and you can find them in the following foods.
Water, remember that our muscles are actually 75% water!
Bananas are a good source of potassium they’ll also give you magnesium and calcium.
Sweet potatoes give you potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Regular potatoes and pumpkins are good sources of all three nutrients.
Avocado has about 975 milligrams of potassium
Beans, lentils and nuts and seeds are rich with magnesium.
Cantaloupe Melon has lots of potassium, a good amount of magnesium and calcium, a little sodium, and a lot of water.
For electrolytes drink coconut water, this miracle drink is more hydrating than H2O
Lifestyle and home remedies
If you have a cramp, these actions may provide relief
Stretch and massage. Stretch the cramped muscle and gently #massage. For a calf cramp, put your weight on your cramped leg and bend your knee slightly. If you're unable to stand, sit on the floor or in a chair with your affected leg extended. Try pulling the top of your foot on the affected side toward your head while your leg remains in a straightened position. This will also help ease a back thigh (hamstring) cramp. For a front thigh (quadriceps) cramp, use a chair to steady yourself and try pulling your foot on the affected side up toward your buttock.
Apply heat or cold. Use a warm towel or heating pad on tense or tight muscles. Taking a warm bath or directing the stream of a hot shower onto the cramped muscle also can help. Alternatively, massaging the cramped muscle with ice may relieve pain.
What Natural Home Remedies Treat Muscle Cramps and Pain?
Most cramps can be stopped if the muscle involved can be stretched. For many cramps of the feet, legs and wrists this stretching can often be accomplished by standing up and walking around.
How to stretch your legs?
Wall Calf Stretch
One of the most effective ways to stretch your calves is via the wall stretch.
Face a wall with your hands resting on the wall for support. Extend one leg backwards, keeping both feet flat on the ground and the rear knee straight. Lean towards the wall by bending your front knee until you feel the tension in the extended leg.
Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat with the alternate leg.
The Drop-Off Calf Stretch
Start standing on one leg on a stair or kerb, with your heel hanging off the back.
Gently press your heel toward the ground until you feel a gentle pull along the back of your lower leg. Hold for 30 seconds. Then slowly bend your knee slightly, until you feel the stretch move lower on the calf.
Hold 30 seconds. Switch legs, repeating twice on each side.
Another technique involves flexing the ankle by pulling the toes up toward the head while still lying in bed with the leg as straight as possible.
How to Stretch your hands?
Wrist pain can be frustrating and inconvenient. It can also make work or basic day-to-day activities, such as using a computer or cooking a meal, more difficult.
Exercises can improve mobility and decrease cramps the chance of injury or re-injury. Wrist stretches are easy to do at home or at the office. When done properly, they can benefit a person's overall wrist and hand health
Standing with your palms together and your elbows to the sides in a prayer position.
Lower the sides of the hands toward the ground until you feel a stretch. Keep your palms together. Hold this position for 5–7 seconds.
Repeat these three times.
Stretch your arm out in front of you. Slowly, point the fingers down until you feel a stretch. Use the other hand to gently pull the raised hand toward the body. Hold this position for
3–5 seconds. Point the fingers toward the ceiling until you feel a stretch. Use the other hand to gently pull the raised hand toward the body.
Hold this position for 3–5 seconds. Repeat this three times.
Gently massaging the muscles will often help it to relax, as will applying warmth from a heating pad or hot soak. If the cramp is associated with fluid loss, as is often the case with vigorous physical activity, fluid and electrolyte (especially sodium and potassium) replacement are essential. Medicines are not generally needed to treat an ordinary cramp that is active since most cramps subside spontaneously before enough medicine would be absorbed to even have an effect.
Some suggest taking vitamin B complex supplements to help manage leg cramps. Especially Deficiencies of certain vitamins, including thiamine (B1), pantothenic acid (B5), and pyridoxine (B6), can also cause muscle cramps.
Additionally, check-in with your doctor as some of the medication you are taking might be the cause of your muscles cramping.
What Are the Symptoms and Signs of Muscle Cramps?
Muscle cramps cause:
· Local pain
· Firmness of the involved muscle
This disturbs the function of the involved extremity. When a hand muscle is affected, it can lead to difficulty in writing (writer's cramp) or grasping.
When the muscles of the calf or foot are affected, it can lead to difficulty walking.
What Are Risk Factors for Developing Muscle Cramps?
Risk factors for developing muscle cramps include certain medications (such as those listed in the section above), exercise, dehydration, and low blood levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B1, B5, or B6.
When Should You Call a Doctor for Muscle Cramps?
Muscle cramps usually are a temporary nuisance and typically resolve on their own without treatment. When muscle cramps continually recur, it is time to seek an evaluation by a health-care professional.
However, see your doctor if your cramps:
Cause severe discomfort
Are associated with leg swelling, redness or skin changes
Are associated with muscle weakness
Don't improve with self-care
Aren't associated with an obvious cause, such as strenuous exercise
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have muscle cramps that are severe, frequent and not getting better with self-care. You might be at higher risk of muscle cramps if you have diabetes, or nerve, liver or thyroid disorders.
What Is the Medical Treatment for Muscle Cramps and Pain?
The primary treatment of muscle cramps involves methods to relax the affected muscle. This typically involves stretching, massage therapy, and heat application. Other treatments are directed toward the underlying cause of the muscle cramps and can include hydration, electrolyte repletion, hormone treatment, calcium supplementation, etc.
Massage Therapy gets to the heart of the problem by addressing trigger points and relaxing tense muscles. During the massage session ask your Massage Therapist to show you techniques and stretches that will help you reduce your chances of getting muscle cramps.