• Anatomy Of Fitness

Suffering from MUSCLE CRAMPS?

Updated: Aug 29

What are MUSCLE CRAMPS? Why do MUSCLE CRAMPS occur? How to prevent or correct MUSCLE CRAMPS? Let us understand the science of MUSCLE CRAMPS.

What are MUSCLE CRAMPS?

Most of us have suffered from MUSCLE CRAMPS at least once in our lives. Whether it was while in deep sleep or whether it was when working out, muscle cramps have at least temporarily paused our activity. Most muscle cramps last temporarily (disappearing on their own) and are harmless while some are an indication of an underlying medical condition. Involuntary muscle contraction causes shooting pain and makes the contracted muscle unusable.

Most muscle cramps are observed in the calf and the quadriceps.

The severity and occurrence of muscle cramps increase with age. Underlying conditions like thyroid problems, liver trouble, diabetes etc. worsen muscle cramps. It is extremely likely to get muscle cramps during pregnancy.

What causes MUSCLE CRAMPS?

MUSCLE CRAMS can be caused due to a variety of reasons. Some of the very common reasons include:

  1. Dehydration.

  2. Holding a position for too long.

  3. Muscle overuse or strenuous exercise.

  4. Micro-nutrient depletion.

  5. Compression of nerves.

  6. Incorrect or too little stretching.

  7. Muscle fatigue.

  8. Little or no flexibility in the muscle.

  9. Electrolyte depletion or imbalance.

  10. Little or no use of muscle.

  11. Poor blood circulation.

How to PREVENT MUSCLE CRAMPS?

Preventing MUSCLE CRAMPS is always wiser than curing them. Here are some ways we can prevent MUSCLE CRAMPS:

  1. Stretching muscles before going to bed and after workout: Stretching relaxes the muscles and helps maintain flexibility. The more flexible a muscle is the lesser susceptible it is to cramping. Hence, it is important to stretch the entire body to prevent muscles from cramping.

  2. Staying hydrated throughout the day and especially when water loss is at its highest eg. Workout, hot & humid climate - Our body loses electrolytes while sweating. Lost electrolytes need to be replenished to maintain the electrolyte balance. We can keep sipping water to replenish our water stores, prepare a mixture of electrolyte + water, use readymade energy drinks, amino acids etc. Mineral micronutrients like Sodium, Calcium, Potassium and Magnesium help in muscle relaxation and contraction. These minerals can be rapidly lost from the body due to sweating, diarrhoea or excessive urination. Dietary deficiency or depletion of these minerals prevent muscles from relaxing, leading to muscle cramps. Medicines that induce such conditions (as an effect or a side effect) may also cause muscle cramps. Hence, hydration care should be taken when taking such medicines.

  3. Vitamin B intake - Increasing vitamin B intake either through food or by taking a potent vitamin B supplement can help in preventing muscle cramps. Vitamin B helps to preserve muscle and nerve function thereby reducing or preventing cramps. The richest sources of vitamin B are eggs, green leafy vegetables, meat and dairy products.


How to CORRECT MUSCLE CRAMPS?

A muscle cramp can be stopped if we can stretch the muscle. The following measures can be undertaken when a cramp is in progress. It will help minimise the pain and accelerate recovery from the cramp.

  1. Massage the cramped muscle.

  2. If possible, use a warm compress or a cold compress on the affected muscle.

  3. If the cramp is in the leg, try standing and walking.

  4. For calf cramps, stand about two to three feet from a wall. Keeping the heels in contact with the floor, the back arched and knees straight, lean toward the wall until you can place the forearms against the wall. If one is unable to get out of the bed, pull the toes upward toward the head to flex the ankle. Do not bend the knees and try keeping your back arched.

  5. If the forearm muscles are cramped, pull the fingers backwards without bending the elbow.

Key takeaways:

  1. Most muscle cramps last temporarily and are harmless.

  2. It is extremely likely to get muscle cramps during pregnancy.

  3. Most muscle cramps are observed in the calf and the quadriceps.

  4. A variety of reasons like dehydration, micronutrient depletion, compression of nerves etc. can cause muscle cramps

  5. Staying hyderated, taking vitamin B supplements, maintaining electrolyte balance and stretching are some of the ways of preventing muscle cramps.

Now we understand the science of MUSCLE CRAMPS.

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