Also called “muscle spasms”, cramps are involuntary contractions. They can cause light to intense pain. They can also cause hardening of your muscles.
They usually happen to athletes and older people. However, anyone can suffer from them.
Because of this, in this article, we’ll tell you how to avoid them.
Why do cramps appear?
There are people who are woken up in the middle of the night with a strong pain coming from their calf, foot or thigh. This is a very uncomfortable way to wake up.
In most cases, night cramps are not bad for your health. They can be reduced and eventually prevented with stretches and changes in your daily habits.
If the muscle cramps are regular and appear during the day, we recommend you see your doctor. They can tell you what causes the cramps and how to solve the problem.
There are several causes of cramps. However, the main ones are related to:
- Movements (or lack thereof)
- Eating too little or too much of certain nutrients
When it comes to movements, we can divide cramps into two groups:
- Those that appear because of too much exercise or effort (for instance, athletes that don’t stretch before working out. Or, if you have been doing heavy work around the house all weekend long).
- They can also appear because of the opposite: If you have been sitting still for several hours per day. (This is the case for office workers or those that have very sedentary habits).
When talking about nutrients, it’s worth it to know several things. For instance, dehydration can cause this problem. In addition, not eating a good amount of magnesium, calcium, or potassium can cause cramps.
However, pay attention. This is because cramps can appear if you take certain medications. These include diuretics, medications for high blood pressure, and beta blockers.
Among other reasons for muscle cramps (both day and nigh) some diseases stand out. These include diabetes and thyroid problems. This is because your metabolism is altered in both cases.
How can you avoid cramps?
The episodes can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. To get relief, you need to massage the affected muscle. This will get it to relax and stretch.
When cramps happen in your calf, standing up should be rather effective. Stretches and using ice or a heating pad are good remedies for these cases.
If you’ve suffered cramps more than once and you don’t want them to appear again while you sleep, pay attention to the following prevention methods:
It’s very important to drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day. Your body hydrates itself with this amount. This lets your cells and organs work like they should. The same thing happens with your muscles, tendons, and blood.
To avoid dehydration, you can choose to drink other liquids, too. For instance, you can drink herbal teas and natural juices.
Things change if you do a physical activity or are out in the summer heat. In these cases, you should drink at least 12 glasses.
You can also eat foods with a high water content. These include tomatoes, cucumbers, and spinach.
It doesn’t matter if you play a sport or not. You should always stretch your muscles well. You should do this at least once per day. This way, you can prevent night cramps and general muscle pains.
It’s recommended to stretch before sleeping. You should always keep in mind the physical possibilities of each stretch.
- Sit on your bed, stretch your legs and lower your chest. The goal is to touch your feet with your hands (or get as close as possible).
- Another exercise that can work for you is done standing up. Place your right leg on the bed and stretch should be stretched out. Move your chest towards your right foot. Repeat with the other leg.
Even ifh you just do a short walk in the park or walk your dog, this can be enough to prevent cramps. Riding your bike, jogging, or practicing yoga can be very useful activities.
This way, your muscles will be stronger and moving. Don’t forget to stretch after finishing your exercise. In addition, make sure you increase the difficulty of the activity as long as you can.
Eat a balanced diet
Nutrition is the foundation of your health. As a result, if you eat well, you’ll be less likely to suffer from muscle spasms.
Choose foods that are rich in potassium (bananas, for instance) and magnesium (seeds are a great source of this nutrient). These will help you prevent this pain at night.
You should also eat healthy foods: fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Also, stop eating refined flours, sugars, and fried foods.
Use good footwear
Many times, cramps appear because you’re walking incorrectly. For instance, women that spend too many hours on heels or those that don’t have good footwear for exercise are usually more affected by muscle spasms.
Try to choose shoes that allow you to support the bottom of your foot. Your calves shouldn’t make a huge effort to raise your feet.
Don’t wear any platforms, heavy shoes, or shoes with small soles. It’s better if they’re closed. However, at the very least, they shouldn’t move when you walk.
Pay attention to your socks. If they are too tight, they block blood flow. This can tighten your muscles too much and makes them more vulnerable to cramps.
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