Muscle cramps are incredibly annoying, and they will hinder with your daily activities and life. Muscle cramps can happen to anyone at any time, and there are many reasons why they happen. Muscle cramps occur when muscles tighten without any direct reflex. This can happen exactly after performing a physically demanding task or after a few minutes or hours later.
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They usually range from mild to high levels of pain. Fortunately enough, there are many ways muscle cramps can be treated and even prevented. But before we go into that, let’s identify what the exact causes and triggers of muscle cramps.
Causes of Muscle Cramps
- Lack of blood circulation – When you hold a position for too long, for example, by not moving your legs when sitting, blood circulation will decrease, hence why a cramp in the leg muscles will develop.
- Exercising calves too hard – Calf muscles are extremely important for the body and is in use almost throughout the entire day. By training it too hard and straining it, cramps will occur directly after or the day after. Cramps in the calf muscles can be extremely painful.
- Lack of stretching– This is sometimes one of the main causes of cramp as muscles that stretched and contracted regularly will cramp more easily. This is usually felt while in bed or when waking up in the morning
- Dehydration – Dehydration in the body means that the body does not have enough electrolytes to replenish muscles. This, along with any of the above causes, will make the body more prone to cramping and means that it will happen more often. Staying hydrated is crucial as it helps the muscles to recover, stay loose as well as provide many other benefits.
- Other causes of muscle cramps include fatigue, physically demanding activities at high altitude or temperature, a deficiency in magnesium or potassium, and a previous injury or issue with any joints, bones or muscles.
Solutions to Prevent Muscle Cramps
- Stretch more – Stretching in the morning, before physical activity and once again before bed, are important for keeping muscles and joints loose and relaxed. Not only stretching is a crucial component in preventing and relieving cramps, but it can also promote better exercise, enhance physical performance and improve posture.
- Hydrate better – Electrolytes are crucial for muscle conditioning and integrity. It will also help muscles to recover quicker from injury and cramps as well as keeping muscles and joints strong, so you can prevent them from happening in the first place. Sports drinks with electrolytes and coconut water are favorite choices. However, plain water should be enough to do the job.
- Better diet – Make sure that you are eating healthy foods and maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight can cause problems for your joints and muscles. Being underweight can rid you of the strength you need to perform tasks. Ensure your diet is filled with healthy and natural proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Focus on foods that are rich with minerals and vitamins. This will help your muscles to stay healthy as well as boosting your immune system.
- Prepare first – Before engaging in any physical activity, always remember to stretch, hydrate and prepare. Especially if you are prone to cramping or recovering from a previous injury, protecting the body before strenuous tasks will prevent you from cramping or risking serious injury.
- Try massage – Massages can definitely help you to stretch out the muscles that you reach. Certain massage is tailored towards loosening tight muscles and joints. It is effective in preventing cramps, spasms and the risk of injury.
- Exercise smarter – When exercising, understand what your limits are and protect your body at all times. If you know the weights are too heavy for you, the kilometres are too long for you or the sets are too much for you, then don’t do it. Try to find the balance between effective exercising and over exercising.
- Apply heat/cold – Applying cold or heat to the affected area will help the muscle to relax and relieve pain. You can do this by using ice packs, wrapping a cold or hot towel open the affected area or relaxing in a warm to hot bath or shower.
- Take it easy – Try to relax more. Not just in a general sense but focus on calming the body and giving it the rest that it needs. This means getting enough sleep and resting in comfortable positions. It also means knowing how hard you should push your physical workouts without being burnt out. Over exercise is a real thing, and muscle cramping is the evidence.
- Seek help – If you are prone to muscle cramping or feel that your cramps are incredibly severe, practice the above steps. If they don’t seem to improve or fix your condition, speak to someone who may be able to provide you with the necessary help or advice. Start by talking with your personal trainer. If you don’t have one, speak with a physio. Speaking with a doctor is also a great idea. They can identify what the problem is and even identify other health complications that may be causing your cramps.
Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.
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