Muscle cramps can be very painful and last for several minutes. They can occur in different parts of the body and appear at rest or during sleep.
Muscle cramp is an involuntary muscle spasm or contraction, usually very painful, that can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. The cramp can affect one or more muscles at a time.
Any muscle can be affected by these contractions. The most commonly affected areas are: calves, anterior and posterior muscles of the thigh, feet, hands, neck and abdomen.
In this article, we will talk more specifically about cramps, their causes, their symptoms, prevention can be adopted, but also give you some tips that will be very useful.
Causes of cramps
The main cause of cramps is hyper-excitation of the nerves that stimulate the muscles. It can be caused by:
- High physical activity (cramping may occur during or after exercise)
- Dehydration (main cause in the elderly and those who use diuretics)
- Pregnancy (in general, cramps are caused by a low level of magnesium)
- Hydro-electrolytic disorders, mainly a lack of calcium and magnesium
- Bone fracture (as a result of self-protection, there is involuntary contraction of the muscles around the lesion)
- Disruption of metabolism, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, alcoholism and hypoglycemia
- Neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, neuromuscular diseases or myopathies
- Venous insufficiency and varicose veins in the legs
- Long periods of inactivity (sitting in a bad position, for example)
Prevention from cramps
To avoid cramps, you must do a stretching session before and after physical activity. This is fundamental for sedentary people. Good hydration before, during and after physical exertion is very important, avoid physical exertion on hot days.
Many people have nocturnal cramps, mainly at the lower limbs (calves and feet). Most of the time, these people have a type of night cramp called idiopathic. These people have a family history of cramps, and no problem can be detected that can justify this condition.
A stretching program of 15 minutes before sleep is recommended, they must also favor a diet rich in calcium and magnesium, stay well hydrated throughout the day and avoid sedentary lifestyle.
Practical tips for dealing with cramps
Stretching is the best method to prevent cramps, especially when they appear in the legs. It is important to emphasize that the results will not appear from one day to the next. It takes at least a few weeks of daily stretching before the muscle gains resistance to unintentional contractions.
Good hydration and frequent stretching will solve cramping problems in most cases. The best way to control the body’s level of hydration is through the color of the urine. Dehydrated people have a very yellow urine with a strong smell, a well-hydrated body produces a clear and odorless urine.
Tips and natural remedies to treat cramps
Having a good potassium level helps to prevent cramps. Foods like kiwi and banana are rich in potassium. They will be a great way to avoid cramps and if you already suffer, you will recover faster.
What should you do ?
- Eating a banana before going for a sport is a good option.
- Drink a banana milkshake.
Apple vinegar is a very good remedy for muscle pain, it promotes circulation and is very tonic. It can be applied externally.
- 2 tablespoons of apple vinegar (30 ml)
How to ?
- Apply to areas where cramps frequently occur, massage lightly and allow to dry.
Arnica flowers are used for the treatment of bruises, pain due to arthritis and limb stiffness; you can prepare an infusion, and apply compresses on the area affected by cramps.
- 1 spoonful of arnica flower (15g)
- 1 cup of water (250 ml)
- Put the water and arnica flowers in a saucepan.
- Heat to boil and turn off, let stand 5 to 7 minutes, pour into a cup and drink the brew.
- Another alternative may be to use a compress soaked with this infusion.
Try the massages
Rubbing the area affected by cramps with circular movements provides relief. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic ointments or balms used by athletes may also be used. These help to reduce the pain and relax the area. They promote circulation, refresh and calm.
How to ?
- Apply to the area affected by cramps with circular motions.