Muscle cramps are painful and uncomfortable. They usually happen after exercise or during sleep. If you experience them regularly, you might want to try some natural remedies.
Muscle cramps are involuntary contractions of muscles. They can cause pain, weakness, and even paralysis. Cramps can also lead to injury. The causes of muscle cramps include dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, overtraining, and nerve damage.
What are Muscle Spasms or Muscle Cramps
A spasm is a sudden contraction of the muscles that results in a feeling of tightness or stiffness. It may be caused by an injury, disease, or other condition. A spasm may occur when your body is under stress, such as from fatigue, lack of sleep, or illness. You may have more than one spasm at a time.
Symptoms of Muscle Spasms ( Muscle Cramps)
Cramps often start with a sharp pain in the muscle followed by a burning sensation. Some people describe it as “pins and needles” or “electric shocks.” Other symptoms include:
• Difficulty moving
• Feeling fatigued
Who gets muscle spasms?
Muscle spasms can occur at any time and anywhere. They can strike even while you’re sleeping. You might wake up feeling stiff and sore. Or it could feel like cramps or knots in your muscles. These symptoms usually go away after a few minutes. But some people experience muscle spasms for days or weeks at a time.
Some individuals are prone to getting muscle spasms and get one or more frequently with any type of physical activity. However, there are several things you can do to prevent them.
How To Prevent Muscle Cramps
1. Drink plenty of water.
Muscle cramps are painful and embarrassing. They’re usually caused by dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, or muscle fatigue.
Drinking enough water helps prevent these problems. The recommended daily amount is eight glasses per day (64 ounces). But if you’re exercising regularly, you may need more than this.
If you exercise at night, drink a glass of water 30 minutes before bedtime. This helps flush out toxins and replenish electrolytes lost during activity.
2. Limit Alcohol
Alcohol dehydrates you, which makes you more likely to develop muscle cramps. Alcohol also lowers your blood pressure. That’s why drinking too much alcohol can make you dizzy and lightheaded.
3. Get enough rest.
Sleep deprivation increases your risk of developing muscle cramps. Make sure you get enough sleep each night. Aim for 7-8 hours.
4. Eat well.
Eating a balanced diet full of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats will help keep your muscles strong. Protein builds new tissue and helps repair damaged cells. Carbohydrates provide energy for working muscles. And healthy fats give you energy without adding extra calories.
When you eat a balanced diet, your body is able to cope with muscle cramps efficiently.
5. Take care of your feet.
Your feet play a big role in preventing muscle cramps. When you walk around barefoot, your feet absorb shock and distribute weight evenly across your entire foot. Shoes restrict circulation and cause your feet to become cold and sweaty.
Wear comfortable shoes that fit properly. Choose shoes made of leather or rubber instead of plastic or canvas. Wear socks to protect your feet from blisters.
6. Use heat therapy.
Heat therapy is a great way to prevent muscle cramps. Heat therapy works because it increases blood flow to muscles, thereby increasing oxygen delivery to working muscles. The result is better performance and fewer cramps.
To use heat therapy, simply wrap yourself in a hot towel after exercising. This simple technique can help reduce soreness and speed recovery.
If you’re not familiar with heat therapy, try this exercise. Wrap yourself in a warm bathtub full of water (not too hot). Sit there for 10 minutes, letting the warmth relax your body. Then get out of the tub and dry off. Your muscles should feel relaxed and refreshed.
7. Take magnesium supplements.
Magnesium is essential for muscle function and relaxation. Magnesium deficiency causes muscle cramping, spasms, and twitching.
To prevent these symptoms, take 400 mg of elemental magnesium daily. This amount is safe and effective.
If you’re taking prescription medications, talk to your doctor before adding magnesium supplements. Some drugs may interact negatively with magnesium.
8. Avoid caffeine.
Caffeine is a stimulant found naturally in coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans, kola nuts, guarana berries, yucca roots, cola nuts, and some over-the-counter medications. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and increases alertness, energy, and concentration.
However, too much caffeine can cause muscle cramping, heart palpitations, insomnia, anxiety attacks, headaches, and nausea. So be careful when drinking caffeinated beverages.
If you’re concerned about caffeine intake, try switching to decaf coffee. Or drink herbal teas instead of regular coffee. And avoid consuming any foods containing caffeine after noon.
9. Stretch before exercising.
Stretching helps prevent muscle cramps during exercise. Stretching increases blood flow to muscles, reduces lactic acid buildup, improves flexibility, and relieves soreness after exercise.
To stretch properly, stand tall, bend at the waist, and reach down toward the floor. Then pull back until you feel a slight tension in your muscles. Hold this position for 30 seconds, repeat twice, and then relax.
10. Exercise at a lower intensity.
Exercising at a lower intensity means exercising at a slower pace than normal. This helps prevent muscle cramping because you’re not working out too hard.
Muscle cramps occur when muscles become overworked and begin to spasm. They usually happen during intense exercise, especially after long periods of strenuous activity.
If you experience muscle cramps, stop exercising immediately and take a break. Stretch your legs, massage your calves, and drink plenty of water. Then resume exercising after 10 minutes.
11. Warm up properly.
Warm-ups are essential to prevent muscle cramps during exercise. They help prepare muscles for physical activity by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to working muscles.
Before any workout, perform some light stretching exercises to warm up your muscles. This includes simple stretches like walking lunges, squats, pushups, and side bends. These movements should be performed slowly at first until you feel comfortable enough to move faster.
Next, perform dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches involve moving through a full range of motion while holding a static position. Examples include jumping jacks, running in place, and squatting down and back up again.
Finally, perform static stretches. Static stretches involve holding a stretch for several seconds, followed by relaxing the muscles. Examples include standing forward bending, lying face down, and sitting in a chair with feet flat on the floor.
These three types of warming-up exercises are important because they improve circulation and reduce the risk of injury.
12. Cool down properly.
Muscle cramping happens when muscles become too warm and tense. The result is painful spasms that cause temporary paralysis.
To prevent muscle cramps, cool down properly after exercise. This means taking at least 10 minutes off after any intense workout.
13. Don’t overtrain.
Overtraining causes fatigue and loss of energy. It also leads to muscle cramping. Overdoing it can lead to injuries as well.
So don’t go overboard with training. Instead, focus on building strength and endurance gradually.
In conclusion, there are many ways to avoid muscle cramping. By following these tips, you’ll have less chance of experiencing muscle cramps.
Bharat Sharma is a Delhi-based writer who loves reading and writing research-based topics revolving around health, fitness, and nutrition. His love for writing started during his teenage and continues till date. After his graduation, he worked for GE Money, and IBM, but later found his true love i.e. blogging.