If you ever experienced a muscle cramp, you know that they develop suddenly and can almost leave your paralyzed temporarily. Some people experience these throughout the night, which can leave you in excruciating pain during the night.
A muscle cramp can occur anywhere in the body because our muscles are all over our body. Common areas include legs, calves, hands, or even stomach.
If you ever tried to massage away a muscle cramp, you would have felt how hard and tense the cramping muscle becomes—almost solid, really.
Muscle cramps for some last only mere seconds, but others experience this pain for up to one hour. They can prevent proper function of the body part that is affected and it can be a lingering pain even after the cramp has subsided.
What causes muscle cramps?
Muscle cramps are commonly caused by dehydration or loss of fluids in the body. Other causes of muscle cramps include inadequate blood supply to a muscle, narrowing of arteries that are responsible for delivering blood throughout the body, nerve compression, or a mineral or vitamin deficiency.
Natural prevention tips for muscle cramps
If you’re sick and tired of enduring pain, which comes along with a muscle cramp, then prevention is key. Ensuring you get adequate levels of nutrients is a sure-fire way to reduce your risk of experiencing muscle cramps. This means eating a variety of foods that contain potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
As mentioned, being dehydrated or losing fluid is another cause of muscle cramps, so ensure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you’ve been sweating a lot.
Muscle cramps may also be caused by overuse of a muscle, which can be caused by work or exercise. To prevent this, make sure you are not only performing physical tasks properly but that you aren’t overusing some muscles over others.
You may also want to cut back on your exercise intensity if muscle cramps become a frequent problem. Furthermore, when you do want to pump up the intensity, make sure it’s a gradual transition and not sudden, as this also increases your risk of muscle cramps.
Another prevention tip for muscle cramps is to sleep well. In some cases, being overtired can trigger muscle cramps, so getting a good night’s rest is ideal to prevent them.
Prolonged sitting and standing can also trigger muscle cramps, so monitor the amount of time you’re at rest or on your feet.
You may also want to look at your medications as a possible cause of muscle cramps. If that’s the case, speak to your doctor about alternative medications available that reduce your risk of muscle cramps.
Having certain medical conditions like peripheral artery disease (PAD), multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, diabetic peripheral neuropathy, and hypothyroidism can all trigger muscle cramps as well. Speak to your doctor about treatment you can undergo in order to reduce the risk of muscle cramps.
Related: Muscle fatigue: Causes, symptoms, and treatment