A muscle cramp is a strong involuntary muscular contraction or tightening with a sudden onset lasting from a few seconds up to several minutes. Also known as Charley-Horse. Most common site remain legs although can be experienced anywhere in the body. Nocturnal (Night time) Calf muscle cramps are reported most often.
- Overuse of muscle.
- Electrolyte depletion.
- Muscle strain.
- A position held for a prolonged period of time.
- Vitamins & minerals deficiency.
- Any medical condition hampering blood flow to the muscles.
A gentle stretch to the cramping/cramped muscle generally relieve the pain and the involuntary contraction occurring in the muscle. A prolonged gentle stretch is usually a better alternative than short vigorous stretch.
Hot & Cold
Ice application should be used as the first line of action as it may help reduce pain and spasm in the acute/immediate time period of the muscle cramp. Ice slows the rate of inflammation and reduce the risk of swelling and muscle damage. It also reduce the pain by making the affected area numb acting as a local anesthetic.
While applying heat pack to the cramped muscle tissue increases the blood flow thus promoting relaxation of the affected muscle. It’s highly advisable to apply in chronic pain developed due to repetitive cramping or a long duration cramp.
Drink it away
Hydration is the key to prevent and to soothe the cramping. Drinking plenty of fluids help muscles relax and contract without much of irritation. Specially in the hot weather and for active people, it’s recommended to drink plenty of water and other hydrating fluids as there is a lot of sweating happening.
So keep that water bottle handy to avoid those pesky cramps!!
Dark leafy greens. Yes u read it right. No matter how much you hate eating your vegetables, they are quite beneficial in preventing those maddening cramps. They’re rich in calcium, magnesium & pottasium. Add fruits to your daily diet as well.
Melons, Bananas, Avocados, Sweet potatoes, Pumpkin, Dairy, Fish, Nuts, Fortified Tofu, Dark Chocolate, Dried Fruits and natural yogurt are a few examples along with Dark Green Leafy vegetables.
Adding Sodium in your diet also helps if you are prone to cramps or an active person who sweats a lot.
If curiosity kills the cat then over-training can definitely cramp the muscle.
Being active is great but over-training takes its toll too. Never go too far while workout so as to over straining your muscles that may result in cramps. A proper rest is equally essential for recovery and preventing muscles to go into involuntary contraction. Know the limits of your body and gradually increase load on the muscles.
Although it doesn’t mean that you should stop pushing yourself to improve. Regular workout sessions are a great measure for prevention of cramps as they make muscles flexible and strengthened.
Note: If cramps are occurring frequently then visit to a Physio, a Physician or a Musculoskeletal specialized Medical Practitioner for the differential diagnosis is advisable.
So, let’s ditch those cramps & stay healthy!!!
Any queries and suggestions are very much welcome!!