Muscle cramps are nothing but uncontrollable and spontaneous episodes of muscle contractions that occur at any time and at any age.1 Muscle cramps are different from muscle spasms in a way that in cramp the muscle contracts and stays sustained this way for a certain period of time while spasms come for short periods and go away.
Muscle cramps never cause you any harm, it is just that during muscle cramping, there is intense pain during muscle contraction. When you have a muscle cramp, the involved muscle or muscles cannot be moved due to pain but on doing so, the cramp relieves quickly.
How Can I Prevent Muscle Cramps?
Below given are some of the ways using these, muscle cramps can be prevented and avoided.
Proper Physical Exercise– When you do rigorous physical activities, the muscles go into spasms and cramping occurs. So, while exercising you must make sure to workout along with adequate intervals in between and with proper intensity. Try to increase the intensity of exercises gradually and not at a stretch.
Adequate Carbohydrate Intake– If you are taking fewer carbohydrates, even then you can experience muscle cramping. Carbs act as fuel for the body while you are working out or doing intense exercises. The muscles have glycogen stores that contains limited amount of carbs. During exercising when these glycogen stores are exhausted, the muscles are likely to undergo cramping. So, it is necessary that you take carbs before the exercise everyday.
Stay Hydrated– Dehydration is one of the major causes of muscle cramping.1 When there is not enough water in the body, the fluid that is present outside of the cells will decrease. When this extra-cellular fluid decreases, the nerve endings squish together and this causes over excitement and spontaneous discharge from the nerve endings. This discharge leads to muscle cramping and also muscle twitching. So you must consume adequate amounts of fluids.
Proper Diet– When you eat proper diet and adequate nutrients, your body will not be deficient of the necessary electrolytes. Electrolytes play an important role in proper functioning of the muscles. Proper electrolyte balance will make the muscles relax and contract rhythmically and smoothly. So it’s important that you get all the electrolytes through your diet. The most important electrolytes are calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium.2
Food items rich in potassium-
Food items rich in magnesium-
Food items rich in calcium-
- Dairy foods
Different Types Of Muscle Cramps
Muscle Cramps Due To Injury– When an injury occurs like a bone fracture, the muscles contract in order to protect further damage to the muscles. Due to these cramps, there is limitation of muscle movement and this makes the area of injury stable. Also when the muscle itself is injured, the muscle will show spasms and cramps.
Muscle Cramps Due To Vigorous Physical Activity– When the muscles are used excessively, fatigue occurs and results in muscle cramps. The cramps may be experienced while doing the physical activity or maybe sometime later. Also, when you attain a particular posture for an extended period of time, the muscle will show cramping. For example, when you sit in a same posture for a long period of time, this might lead to muscle cramping.
Muscle Cramps At Rest– These types of cramps are very common. These are experienced at night. These are also known as nocturnal cramps. These cramps are harmless but are painful and your sleep gets disturbed. The reason behind causation of these cramps is yet unknown, but it is said that when you are asleep and try to change your posture, the muscle gets shortened and contracts causing cramping.
Muscle cramps are not very harmful for us and they are preventable. Different ways using which muscle cramps can be prevented are- staying hydrated all the time, having proper and nutritious diet including green vegetables and fruits and nuts as they contain important electrolytes like potassium, calcium and magnesium and performing stretching exercises also help a lot to avoid chances of muscle cramps. So, use these techniques to avoid muscle cramps and stay cramp free.
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