What Causes Muscle Cramps and How Can You Treat Them?
Muscle cramps or spasms occur when one or more of your muscles contracts involuntarily, without being able to relax it, causing a mild or intense degree of pain.
They usually occur in the back of the leg or thigh, but you can also experience muscle cramps in the feet, arms, and other muscle groups of the body.
People who suffer from them can have an uncomfortable feeling of stiffness and tension that disappears on its own in a matter of minutes.
Some people, however, are left with severe discomfort that persists for hours in the affected muscle group or the surrounding tissues.
While cramps are considered to be a benign problem, many people try to alleviate them because they can interrupt your sleep or other important daily activities.
With that in mind, it’s important to find out what the possible causes of cramps are and what steps you can take to avoid using painkillers or other medications.
In today’s article we want to give you some detailed information and practical recommendations for immediate action.
The causes of muscle cramps
There are many factors that have been associated with the appearance of muscle cramps. Physical overexertion, pregnancy, and age are some of the possible triggers.
However, the majority of cases occur when something interrupts the oxygen flow to certain muscle groups or you suffer from an excessive loss of fluids, mineral salts, and proteins.
A diet that’s low in magnesium and potassium also has a lot to do with recurring episodes of cramping. Both of these minerals strengthen and relax the muscles, while also promoting good circulation.
Less common causes include certain diseases, especially of the digestive system, and poisoning.
Another theory suggests that cramps could have their origin in inefficient biomechanics, which also implies a risk to your cardiovascular health.
See also: How to relieve menstrual cramps
How to treat muscle cramps?
It would be ideal to take preventative measures to guard against this annoying condition, but there are some homemade solutions that can help you deal with them when one has already set in.
Increase your water consumption
Water consumption is essential both for preventing and treating this annoying muscular condition. Water helps activate your circulation and improves the transport of oxygen to the cells.
Sports drinks are a good choice for rehydration, especially when you’ve lost a lot of fluids to physical activity or heat.
The latter are recommended for athletes, as they help replace the minerals that have been lost through sweat.
Use heating pads or cold compresses
A heating pad will help relax the muscle when it is tight and stressed during the spasm.
Cold can help you reactivate circulation as soon as the cramp has passed.
Perform stretching exercises
Stretching exercises are the best way to fight and prevent cramping in any part of the body. These should be done at the end of physical activity and during the workday.
When you stretch your extremities, you activate the central nervous system to send signals that calm the cramping condition.
Wear loose clothing
As soon as you notice the first sign of a muscle cramp, it’s important that you loosen your clothing to free the muscles.
Tight clothes impede circulation and prevent rapid relief from this problem.
Improve your diet
If cramps are a regular part of your life, perhaps it’s time to review the nutritional quality of the food you’re eating.
Make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of:
- Vitamin B12
- Folic acid
- Vitamin E
Use olive oil
As soon as you feel the pain, put a little olive oil in the palms of your hands and use a gentle massage in the area, pressing with your fingertips.
We recommend read: 10 surprising benefits of extra virgin olive oil
Take a warm bath
When this discomfort interrupts your evenings and diminishes your quality of sleep, the best is to take action before you go to bed.
Heat up some water and take a bath to increase circulation in the legs and reduce the odds of suffering from muscle cramps.
Finally, remember that if none of these recommendations work for you and you have regular cramps, the best thing to do is to talk with your doctor to determine if you have a hormonal or circulatory problem.
Don’t ignore them!