If you’re not very regular with exercise, chances are you’re no stranger to muscle cramps. But if you ignore these cramps, you might be setting yourself up for future injury. So how do you prevent and put a stop to muscle cramps? Let’s find out the solution…
What is a muscle cramp?
We use our muscles through out the day. It is as important as breathing, but when your rhythm of breathing changes so do your bodily functions. Similarly when your muscle contracts involuntarily, without warning, it causes cramps or spasms. These spasms can involuntarily contract a muscle or groups of muscles. A muscle cramp may last for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes.
Which muscles are affected by muscle cramps?
There are two kinds of muscles – the ones that you can control like those in the arms and legs that you can use when lifting, moving, bending etc, and the ones that you can’t control. The second kind of muscle falls under the involuntary muscles category.
Your involuntary muscles (the heart being one of them) can also face spasms and cramps but the causes and results are extremely different from routine muscle cramps of limbs. In this post, we shall focus only on muscle cramps that affect our voluntary muscles.
Cause of Muscle Cramps:
Parents complain that their children are disconnected; this is exactly what happens with your muscles. Like excited hyperactive children, your nerve excites your muscles resulting in spasms.
Secondly, lack of calcium, potassium and magnesium can stimulate muscle cramps
Dehydration can also result in muscle cramps.
Injury to the nerve or muscle strokes can lead to muscle spasms.
Poor circulation to your muscles ignites muscle cramps, you may have experienced it after sitting crossed legged for extended time durations.
Can medication cause muscle cramps?
Yes, certain medicines can cause muscle spasms. Certain medication used to treat Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure and meds to lower cholesterol can cause muscle cramps. But these side effects are not common to all drug users; it will vary from person to person. Consult your doctor if you want to discontinue your meds.
How to treat muscle cramps
Relax the muscle
Apply heat on the muscle
Stretching – slowly stretch the muscle
Massaging works well
Have calcium, potassium and magnesium supplements, if you lack these minerals.
Have an electrolyte drink
Try walking or standing up
How to prevent muscle cramps?
– Stretching, warm up exercises and post workout exercises can help prevent muscle cramps.
– If you are going to undertake strenuous activity, hydrate yourself.
– Electrolytes are the key especially when you perspire excessively.
Nocturnal cramps in elderly
With age, blood circulation slows down while you are asleep. This can cause cramps and disturb your sleep. Inactivity and lack of exercise are to be blamed too. But nocturnal cramps can also strike anyone; if you are seated at your chair for long hours or standing in one position for a long time, you may suffer from nocturnal cramps too. Even the wrong chair for you can result in spasms.
Consult your doctor if you want to follow certain exercise; exercise can help prevent muscle cramps. Water and a good massage can help prevent muscle cramps too. But beware of getting massaged by a non-qualified massage therapist. Wrong massage technique can cause worse problems than muscle cramps.