muscle

Muscle cramp is never pleasant. Whether it strikes when you’re in bed or working out, it can have crippling consequences. It’s intense, uncomfortable, and many of us believe there’s no option but to wait it out. But, we’re here to tell you that might not be the case: is there a muscle cramp treatment?


Of course, before you can treat muscle cramp, it helps to know what causes it. In reality, the reasons behind this pain can vary, and they largely depend on when your cramps hit. Wherever your cramp occurs though, the chances are that there’s one common denominator; the salt levels in your body. [1]


For many years now, scientists have noticed that cramp, in most of its forms, comes down to the salt levels in our blood. Anything which changes those salt levels, e.g., hydration, exercise, and even some medication, can worsen the condition. There is also some evidence to suggest that age, pregnancy, and even a deficiency in magnesium or potassium could be to blame.


But, how do you know that it is cramp you’re experiencing? This is something we all talk about, but what is it? For the most part, if you have a cramp, you’ll know about it. This isn’t something you can ignore or misdiagnose. Cramp happens when your muscle contracts but doesn’t relax again for an extended period. So, where does salt come into this? Quite simply, nerves act as salt gates, allowing salt to pass in and out of cells and transmit signals to our muscles. When our salt levels change, those signals become confused and thus cause issues like cramp.


So, that’s what cramp is. Now, the question is, how can you cure it fast when it threatens to cripple you?

 


Stretching as a muscle cramp treatment

 

stretching as a muscle cramp treatment

 

No matter where your leg cramps happen, stretching can be a massive help to curing them fast. Many sufferers find that stretching the muscle in question is the quickest way to ease the intensity. It doesn’t even take a genius to figure out why this helps. By stretching muscles either before or during a cramp, you loosen and flex them. This ensures that they’re able to continue contracting in the usual way. Of course, we all know that stretching before exercising is pretty crucial. Runners and athletes have to take a decent of time on their warm ups. You might not realize, though, that stopping to stretch during a cramp can also get you back on your feet faster. Even less well-known is the fact that stretching before bed can also help. A randomized trial in older adults found a significant decrease in night-time cramps for an experimental group who completed short stretching exercises before bed. [2] If you don’t already then, stretching both before and during the times your cramp is most likely to hit could make a huge difference.

 

 

Heat can work as a muscle cramp treatment


This one may come as a surprise to some people, given that exercising in hot conditions can actually cause cramps in some cases. But, applying a little heat can also go a long way towards easing a cramping muscle. Experts often suggest either taking a hot bath or applying a heat compress straight to the affected area. [3] And, more often than not, this is a pretty good way to ease those aches. Why? Because heat increases blood flow to the area in question. This ensures that salt gets moving again, and enables your muscle to at last relax. If you often suffer from cramps when you’re out and about, then, you may well find that you benefit a great deal from packing a travel heat pack. That way, you’ll be able to get your blood salt flowing again within seconds. With one of these in tow, cramp never needs to stop your session again. And, of course, those who suffer from night cramps could benefit from keeping a hot water bottle handy. It can keep you snug between the sheets, and put an end to your cramp suffering. What’s not to love?

 

 

Slowing down as a muscle cramp treatment

 

slowing down as a muscle cramp treatment

 

Sometimes, cramp hits after a particularly vigorous session at the gym. In these cases, this can often be a sign that we’re simply working our muscles past their point. When muscles are tired, they lose the ability to contract and relax as they should. This alone can hinder blood flow and cause cramp to occur. In reality, you shouldn’t find this to be the case if you warm up well before getting started. But, if you keep cramping even after a decent stretching session first, it’s a sure sign that you need to slow down. Trying to push through a cramp like this is never going to work. Even if you managed to ease that pain with any of the other methods mentioned, you would soon suffer again if you pushed your muscle further. In these cases, then, just listen to your body. If your muscle is telling you it needs a break, slowing down is the fastest way to get back on your feet.

 

 

Eating right as a muscle cramp treatment


Given that all this is about our salt levels, it should come as no surprise that the food you eat can also play a huge part in how often your muscles cramp. Changing your diet and getting into the habit of reading nutritional labels can also be one of the best ways to treat the problem. For the most part, you want to look out for potassium-heavy foods which can aid communication between muscles and make sure everything runs smooth. Bananas are an obvious choice here and are a quick snack for anyone who loves a gym session. But, they aren’t the only option. Other choices include foods like sweet potato, beans, and melon. A 2013 study also found that anything pickled could be beneficial thanks to its increased salt content. [4] So, don’t be afraid to reach for the gherkins before you head out for your next run.

 

 

Muscle cramp treatment: Hydration


muscle cramp treatment: hydration

 

We’ve saved the best until last. When it comes to fast treatment for cramps, one thing comes up time and again, and that’s hydration. This should come as no surprise, given the correlation between cramps and salt. When we sweat, we lose essential salt from our bodies. Equally, we don’t drink in the night, which could be to blame for those night time cramp issues. If you really want to solve your cramping fast, then, keeping a bottle of water at your side is essential. Drinking plenty is a sure way to restore the salt and water balance in your body. That, in turn, can keep cramps at bay for good. Bear in mind that this can be both a prevention and a cure. As a general rule, drinking around eight (8)-ounce glasses of water a day should help you to prevent cramps altogether. [5] You may also find that drinking during a cramp can help you get back to normal faster. So, get into the habit of carrying a bottle when you work out, or taking water to bed with you. If you struggle to get the recommended amount even with effort, Hydrant can help to increase the mineral benefits of the water you do drink. Either way, it’s past time you hydrated your body the way you should have been doing all along.


As you can see, there’s no reason to suffer in silence. By understanding your muscle cramp, it’s easy enough to find fast treatment. All you need to do is bear each of these in mind next time that pain strikes.

 

 

References

 

[1] 'Cramp and Salt Balance in Ordinary Life' Sir Arthur J. Hall et al
[2] Stretching before sleep reduces the frequency and severity of nocturnal leg cramps in older adults: a randomised trial by Joannes M.Hallegraeff et. al.
[3] 'Muscle Cramps: how to prevent and soothe pain' American Osteopathic Association
[4] Reflex inhibition of electrically induced muscle cramps in hypohydrated humans by Miller KC et. al
[5] 'Water: Do we really need 8 glasses a day?' July 2018 Medical News Today

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