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!!
3 thoughts on “Muscle Cramps : The Agony”
Hello 🙂 thank you for this post , i will stretch-relax , be more hydrated and if possible release my tricep on a barbell . But i would like to tell you something . In march i didnt warm up and started doing Tricep pushdowns with resistance bands ( no weights ) and to “feel more the muscle” i overcontracted the tricep (hyperextension of the arm) and in 1 rep , i feel like my tricep cramped with a burning sensation , something went wrong , and after that moment when i want to do Dips i cant because my right tricep falls first and i get that cramping/burning sensation , the same when i push hard things , or when i eant to sit suporting me on my right arm i get that kind of pain , the elbow injuries (triceps) are for general complex but giving you more info i would like to get helped because i feel like the time goes by and i dont get properly diagnosed . My ultrasound showed my tricep fine , but i dont know is causing this pain when i want to use the tricep , inportant to say that i dont use the right truceps anymore because the cramp type pain , so when i get up from bed i get up with elbow flexed , i dont do tricep exercises for my right arm ,even sometimes when i do “bird dog” exercise , if i straighten completely my right arm my tricep gets that cramp burning pain .here i let you more info 🙂
Pain occurs during : elbow extension under load
Exercises i can do symptom free : pushups
Exercises i cant do : chest dips , tricep dips , bench dips , tricep exercises even with light or moderate weight
Extra info : if i want to flex hard the triceps (tricep pose) i get that cramping , like if i overcontract the triceps i get that discomfort
Aahh , another data , here is some of the triceps injuries that i know according to my ultrasound that showed fine
– tricep strain
– snapping tricep syndrome
– tricep tendinitis
– tricep tear
– tricep tendon rupture
– tricep ulnar nerve
i hope the reply i have given through insta messenger has helped you in a better way to deal with the problem you are facing..
Dr. Nishant Gupta