What Are Muscle Cramps? And What To Do About It

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A cramp or muscle spasm is involuntary, brief and painful. The causes that trigger a cramp can be many including fatigue, metabolic disorders, dehydration, nerve or vascular abnormalities.

The best way of preventing them is having an adequate intake of fluids and good nutrition before and during exercise. If the physical practice will be long-lasting you may need to take sports drinks to replenish electrolytes. Once you are suffering from a cramp the best thing is to stretch the muscle gently and gradually. The application of heat can also help, as it will produce widen the blood vessels and provide more nutrients and electrolytes to the muscle.

Finding the Causes of Muscle Cramps

First, let's look have a look at the causes.

In fact, nobody really sees to know the exact cause of muscle cramps, but some experts believe that they are caused by low calcium or potassium in the blood. Other specialists say it is due to a lack of proper fluids, which results in dehydration that causes the muscles to experience involuntary spasms. Finally, there are those who say the problem is that there is insufficient blood circulation in those areas.

The following is a series of situations where muscle cramp is experienced more often:

  • Women who are experiencing their menstrual cycles tend to have severe cramping in the legs when they are exposed to cold air, (for example as they move sunshine into an air conditioned environment).
  • Also pregnant women tend to get muscle cramps while sleeping. This could be because their babies absorb most of the nutrients, leaving the mother with less than what she needs. It may also be that a pregnant women not drinking enough fluids, for fear of living in the bathroom.
  • Those who wear wrong sized shoes may up with cramps in the legs and feet. Inappropriate shoes or slippers, may also have to do with having heels that are too high, with flat sandals that are not padded or for exercising with a shoe that is not made for sports.
  • People who have had undergone surgeries, or who have a circulatory disorder of importance, can be affected with muscle cramps.
  • Similarly, those who over exert their muscles (especially if they are still cold) when exercising, such as walking uphill without warming up or going into the cold or even chilly waters of the ocean for a long swim – where the change of temperatures also becomes a factor).
  • Individuals who wear tight clothes the cut the flow of blood in the body, may also be more likely to cramp.

Preventing muscle cramps

Muscle cramps prevention can be really simple. Like everything else, the effectiveness is not fully guaranteed, but the risks are greatly reduced:

  1. Regular exercise can help improve circulation.
  2. Stretch and warm up your muscles daily.
  3. Drinking eight glasses of fluid per day, preferably water.
  4. Eat plenty of foods rich in calcium and potassium, like bananas, orange juice, potatoes and fresh vegetables.
  5. Avoid fatty and fried foods.
  6. Wear elastic stockings during the day, especially if you have varicose veins or you begin to notice swelling of the ankles.
  7. Weaving socks to bed at night can be very useful because it helps your feet keep warm.

What To Do When You Have A Muscle Cramp

After experiencing a muscle cramp, it is very useful to do the following:

  • When the cramp begins, you must stretch the muscle. At first you may feel more pain, but after a while it will decrease. If the cramp hits you on one leg, lie down and have someone help you lift and straighten the affected leg. Ask the person who is helping to take your leg and push it toward you. You on the other hand put pressure against the push, by stretching – do not bend the leg.
  • Ask someone to massage the cramped muscle, so that the area will become warm and this makes the pain go away.
  • Soak the area with warm water.
  • If the cramp is in the leg, you should try to stand and walk.
  • Another alternative would be to apply a muscle relaxant cream.