I get muscle cramps from time-to-time but thankfully not that often. Sometimes in the middle of the night, when I stretch out, I can feel my calf muscle starting to seize up. I’ve learned that if I jump out of bed and get my feet flat on the floor quickly enough the cramp will subside. Last summer I had the start of a cramp in both calves at the same time. It was a quick and awkward jump out of a sleeping bag as it happened when I was camping. Not an easy feat.
Aside from knowing that they happen I didn’t know much about them until now. A muscle cramp is an involuntary contraction of one or more muscles that result in severe pain. They are usually harmless but they can make using that muscle or group of muscles impossible for a period of time.
Muscles cramps can be caused by the overuse of the muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or being in one position for too long. Sometimes getting cramps on a regular basis can be related to an underlying medical condition such as inadequate blood supply due to the narrowing of arteries, compression of the nerves in the spine, and/or not having enough minerals (potassium, calcium or magnesium) in your diet.
If a muscle cramp does happen you can try one of the following to relieve the pain:
- Stretch the muscle(s) that is cramping (jumping out of bed works).
- Massage the muscle.
- Heat in the form of a hot bath or a heating pad will relax the muscle.
As with any physical ailment prevention is always the better route to take. Keeping hydrated is one of the best defenses to muscle cramps. Fluids help your muscle contract and relax smoothly. So many of us are often more dehydrated than we think we are. Water is the best thing to consume to avoid dehydration.
Doing a regular stretching routine also keeps our muscles moving well. Stretching should be done a daily basis whether you’re exercising or not.
Lastly – eat a balanced diet that is full of vitamins and minerals.
Now we both know a little more about muscle cramps and how to prevent them.
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