A Cramp? This Is What You Should Do to Get Rid of It

March 27, 2017
A cramp is an involuntary muscle contraction, and it's very common. In fact, nearly everyone has experienced muscle cramps! Learn about what to do when you get one and how to help prevent future cramps.

The pain from a cramp occurs in any region of the body and can strike when we least expect it.

Who hasn’t had a cramp?

The answer to that question, strangely, would end up being “nobody.” This is due to the composition of the body, which is made up of muscles in every region.

What’s a Cramp?

a leg cramp

A cramp is nothing more than an involuntary muscle contraction.

Sometimes, the whole muscle tissue doesn’t contract, and only part of it does. Accordingly, the cramp is concentrated in one area. The pain is, of course, just as intense and annoying as it would be if the cramp affected the whole muscle.

Cramps occur without any direct trauma or damage to the muscle. In fact, it’s common after overestimating the body or before going to sleep.

We recommend reading: Learn to Alleviate Heaviness and Pain in Your Legs

Causes of Involuntary Muscle Contractions

As we mentioned above, direct trauma doesn’t cause cramps.

In fact, the factors that cause it are varied and don’t always relate to muscle damage.

The most common are:

  • Injuries to the spinal cord.
  • Nerve malfunction.
  • Muscular overexertion.
  • Lack of minerals.
  • Hydration problems.
  • Insufficient blood flow in a muscle.
  • A pressed nerve in the back or neck.

Other factors that cause cramps are:

  • Pregnancy.
  • Periods.
  • Renal insufficiency.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Alcohol problems.
  • Certain medications.

What to Do When You Get a Cramp

shoulder pain

You can get a cramp at any time, so it’s recommended to know what to do when you have one. Essentially, you need to know how to be prepared for the situation.

Before Doing Physical Activity

Overexerting your muscles is certainly one of the main triggers of involuntary muscle contractions. This is why you should take a number of precautions before doing any physical activity.

  • Activate all muscle groups, especially those in the specific area that you’ll work out.
  • Hydrate yourself before, during and after the activity.
  • Don’t eat heavy foods.
  • If you eat, do it at least 2 hours before exercising.
  • Avoid drinking coffee or alcoholic beverages.

Alternatives for Controlling a Cramp

There are many ways to mitigate involuntary muscle contractions. Let’s show you some of the easiest and most practical ways.

See also: Muscle Cramps, Learn to Treat Them at Home

Massage the Affected Muscle

This is one of the most common ways to treat a cramp. It’s easy to do and, above all, it provides great benefits.

  • To do this, it’s first necessary to get into a comfortable position, depending on where the contracted muscle is.
  • Exercise moderate force with one hand while massaging in a circular motion. This will promote blood circulation to the muscle so that it returns to a normal state.

Apply Heat to the Cramp

showering

This is also a great alternative for combatting cramps, especially when they last a long time.

We can apply heat in the following ways:

  • Take a warm shower: Hot water combined with steam can be very effective. The heat of the water on the body will gradually dissipate the involuntary contraction.
  • Apply hot-water compresses: Soaking a compress with hot water and applying it directly to the affected area will improve the state of the muscle. If you don’t have a towel, you can use a rag or a cloth.

Drink Lots of Water

Since one of the main causes of cramping is dehydration, a good alternative is drinking more water.

This solution not only treats cramps but also prevents them.

When you get a cramp, you should drink at least half a liter of water.

However, it’s necessary to know whether the muscle contraction occurred during a physical activity. If this is the case, then the cramp directly relates to body dehydration.

Issues to Take into Consideration

It’s important to know that it’s very common to suffer from cramps. Regardless of the discomfort muscle contractions cause in the body, they only last for 10 minutes at most.

However, if this isn’t the case, then it’s advisable to visit your doctor in order to evaluate the affected muscles.

Main image courtesy of © wikiHow.com

  • Schwellnus, M. P. (1999). Calambres del Músculo Esquelético Durante el Ejercicio. THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE.