How Long Does It Take To Recover From Muscle Cramps?

Muscle cramps are a common entity in our day to day life. They are marked by involuntary contractions of muscle fibers or group of muscles.1 They get hardened and stiff during contractions. They usually involve voluntary muscles like skeletal muscles of the body. They can develop at any age. The risk of developing muscle cramps increases with increase in age. They are caused by strenuous exercises, nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, sedentary lifestyle, pregnancy and many more. They usually resolve by themselves without any medical intervention. The recovery process depends on causes, type, and intensity of the physical activity involved.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Muscle Cramps?

The recovery from muscle cramps is dependent on the type and intensity of the physical activity performed.

Nutritional Deficiencies- the recovery from muscle cramps caused due to nutritional deficiency depends on the food we eat. Fluid, electrolyte balance, glycogen levels, stress and process of rebuilding of muscle tissue influences the recovery from these spasms. Consumption of fluids, carbohydrates and high protein rich diet can fasten the recovery processes for muscle cramps and rebuilding the muscles.2

Walking Or Running Exercises- walking and running involves many basic muscles of the body in every session. Recovery from muscle cramps induced by running or walking depends on the intensity, duration, and surface of the workout. If you are running or walking in a hilly area, the recovery period may extend. It may take 48 hours to start the recovery process after a workout in a hilly area. So, trained runners opt to work out on the flat ground to have minimal damage to muscles, minimum muscle cramps and get quick recovery.

Heavyweight Lifting – lifting a heavyweight undergo eccentric contractions, i.e. muscles fibers contracts when the heavyweight is brought up towards the body. It can affect the integrity of the muscle fibers and render more damage to the muscles. It increases the recovery period of the involved muscle fibers. It may take 7 to 14 days after the workout to recover completely.

Impact Of Sleep- sleep is a natural phenomenon by which we provide rest to our body and mind. The person who sleeps deep recovers fast from a hard workout or strenuous physical exertion. Sleep induces calming down of the sympathetic nervous system. If you are awake at 3 a.m. and your heart rate is fast, then your recovery from workouts or physical activities slow down.

Muscle cramps are also known as Charley Horses.3 They are common condition marked by involuntary contraction and relaxation of the muscles. It affects calves, thigh, foot, arms, hands, abdomen, and muscles around the ribs. The cramps usually appear in voluntary muscles of our body. Voluntary muscles are those muscles that are under our control.

Muscle cramps are characterized by hardening of the affected muscle with cramping pain. Hardened muscles are also visible during the spasms. They may also twitch during cramps. Muscle cramps come and go by themselves in duration depending upon its causes, location, and intensity of damage of the muscle fibers.

What Causes Muscle Cramps?

Muscle cramps are caused due to a variety of reasons-

  • Dehydration
  • Vigorous exercise
  • Running and cycling
  • Improper nutrition
  • Trauma to muscle
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Weight-bearing exercises
  • Birth control medicines
  • Steroids
  • Diuretics
  • Deficiency of calcium or potassium
  • Cold weather
  • Low blood supply
  • Pregnancy
  • Spinal nerve compression
  • Alcoholism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Kidney failure
  • Low thyroid gland function
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Conclusion

Muscle cramps recover depending upon their causes, intensity, and type of physical activity involved. In case of nutritional deficiencies, if they are managed properly, the muscle cramps recover fast. Muscle cramps due to heavy weight lifting or running or walking take time to recover. Resting and having a proper sleep fastens the recovery processes.

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