The effective treatment of muscle cramps is determined by the underlying cause.
- Passive stretching
- Icing the affected muscles
- Muscle contraction on the opposite side of the cramping muscle (i.e., if the hamstring is cramping, contract the quadriceps muscle group to relax the hamstring muscle group)
- Hydration is essential
- The same treatments described can be used right away to relieve pain and muscle spasms
- However, in addition to stretching, massage, and ice application, these people must consume sodium-enriched fluids (oral rehydration solution, Gatorade)
- According to research, immediate consumption of a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink with salt added and thoroughly mixed over 5 to 10 minutes is effective in relieving muscle cramps and preventing future severe cramping
3 common causes of muscle cramps
Overexertion is the most common cause of cramping in athletes, such as runners. Most exercise-induced cramps are not caused by dehydration or electrolyte imbalances. Cramps are more likely to occur because of overexertion and pushing the muscles harder and for a longer period than they are used to.
- It is the most likely cause of cramping during a race. A person pushes themselves harder during a race than they did during any training runs. It is the most difficult concept for many to accept because people believe they have adequately prepared for their sporting endeavors.
- During a race, a person will almost certainly deviate from their training plan. The hope is that the body is physically prepared to deal with this overexertion without injury. If a person gets muscle cramps or spasms before or during an event, change the training routine for the next event.
- Muscle tissue prefers movement versus static postures
- Prolonged immobility causes spasms and pain over time.
- Muscle cramping can be caused by prolonged poor posture, such as a slouched spine with a forward head posture or riding in a car with the knee completely flexed up all day.
- Poor posture can cause vertebral and spinal problems, which can lead to more pain and cramping.
- This can cause an electrolyte imbalance and decrease tissue extensibility, resulting in muscle spasms and cramping.
- It can result in decreased blood flow to body parts and organ systems that rely on blood for oxygen and nutrients.
- Spasms can occur in both skeletal muscle and the abdominal organs. Dehydration combined with severe electrolyte imbalances can result in additional cardiac symptoms, including cardiac arrest (heart attack).
- Dehydration can occur for a variety of reasons, including illness that causes excessive vomiting or diarrhea.
- Magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium are all essential for bodily functions, especially muscle and nervous tissue. Too much or too little concerning one another can cause muscle spasms and pain.
12 other common causes of muscle cramping
- Muscle tears and injury
- Vertebral misalignment
- Poor blood flow (vascular occlusion)
- Pain from an injury to a muscle, bone, tendon, ligament, or nerve tissue
- Emotional or psychological pain
- Nerve damage
- Thyroid issues
- Medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, and restless leg syndrome
- Arachnids, an injury caused by a spider bite or bites from other insects; their venom can cause muscle cramping
Although the list of common causes of spasms or cramping is long, it is certainly not all-inclusive.
Can I prevent muscle cramps?
Muscle cramps can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle and correct training processes.
A few common tips to prevent muscle cramps are:
- Drink enough water and liquids and ensure the urine is light yellow or clear like water
- Drinks containing alcohol should be limited or avoided
- Make sure to get enough calcium, potassium, and magnesium in the diet (especially if a person is pregnant)
- Stretch muscles daily, particularly before and after exercise and before going to bed
- Do not start exercising more frequently suddenly; each week, increase exercise time or intensity by a small amount
- Take a multivitamin supplement daily
- The doctor may prescribe different medications if a person is taking medications that can cause leg cramps
If a person has muscle cramps that do not go away or are severe, consult a doctor. These could be signs of something else, such as restless legs syndrome. If the cramps keep coming back, are bothering a lot, or are interfering with sleep, the doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant.
Latest Exercise & Fitness News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
WebMD. Remedies for Muscle Cramps. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/remedies-for-muscle-cramps#1
Harvard Health Publishing. Take that, muscle cramps! https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/take-that-muscle-cramps
Better Health. Muscle cramp. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/muscle-cramp
Top How Do You Stop a Cramp Fast Related Articles
Digestive Disorders: Foods That Help or Hurt Tummy CrampsWhat you eat can affect your cramps -- for better or for worse. Here are the best and worst foods and drinks for when you’re in pain.
Hamstring Muscle PictureThe prominent tendons at the back of the knee. See a picture of Hamstring Muscle and learn more about the health topic.
Heat CrampsHeat cramps usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity or work in a hot, humid environment. Symptoms of heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms, usually in the abdomen, arms or legs that occur in association with strenuous activity. Heat cramps are part of a group of heat-related illnesses. Heat cramps can sometimes lead to heat exhaustion or, in severe instances, heat stroke, which is a true medical emergency.
How Can I Get Rid of Back Spasms?When your back is stiff or weak, it becomes prone to injury. While most muscle spasms in your back are harmless and can be treated effectively, some indicate that there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Common ways to get rid of back spasms include massage, heat and ice therapy, NSAIDs and other strategies.
How Can I Relieve Muscle Soreness?Here are 11 different ways to relieve muscle soreness at home following an intense workout or rigorous physical activity.
How Do You Stop Stomach Cramps?Try following these home care steps to alleviate stomach cramps including resting, drinking water, eating bland foods and avoiding offending foods. Exercise, safe food handling and stress reduction may also help alleviate stomach cramps.
How Can You Tell If You Have Nerve Pain or Muscle Pain?If the pain started after an injury and it's a dull ache, it's likely muscle pain. If your pain seemed to come out of nowhere or it's been ongoing, and it feels like your skin is on fire, you're likely experiencing nerve pain.
Is It Normal to Cramp After Sex?Cramping after sex can occur for a wide variety of reasons and is not always a sign of an underlying medical condition. Learn about potential causes.
Leg Pain: Causes and Treatments for Aching Calf, Thighs, and MusclesLeg, calf and thigh pain are symptoms of conditions that may involve the muscles, nerves, and more. Sensations like tingling, cramps, and numbness may also occur. Injuries, blood clots, and inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis may cause leg pain.
Muscle CrampsMuscle cramps are involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscles that do not relax. Extremely common, any muscles that have voluntary control, including some organs, are subject to cramp. Since there is such variety in the types of muscle cramps that can occur, many causes and preventative medications are known. Stretching is the most common way to stop or prevent most muscle cramps.
Muscle Pain (Myofascial Pain Syndrome)Muscle pain (myofascial pain syndrome) is muscle pain in the body's soft tissues due to injury or strain. Symptoms include muscle pain with tender points and fatigue. Treatment usually involves physical therapy, massage therapy, or trigger point injection.
Muscle SpasmsMuscle spasms are involuntary muscle contractions that come on suddenly and are usually quite painful. Dehydration, doing strenuous exercise in a hot environment, prolonged muscle use, and certain diseases of the nervous system may cause muscle spasms. Symptoms and signs of a muscle spasm include an acute onset of pain and a possible bulge seen or felt beneath the skin where the muscle is located. Gently stretching the muscle usually resolves a muscle spasm.
Men's Muscle-BuildingWant bulging biceps and a bigger chest? Our experts demonstrate the right moves to help men build bigger muscles with just two efficient workouts each week.
25 Ways to Relieve Menstrual CrampsMenstrual cramps happen when prostaglandins force the uterus to contract. Dysmenorrhea, or period pain, may be relieved by heating pads, ibuprofen, and other measures. Endometriosis may cause severe cramps during the menstrual cycle. Luckily, women have many options for period pain relief.
Should You Stretch a Strained Muscle?Muscle strain is another term for a pulled muscle. Some experts recommend gentle stretching for muscles that are recovering from a strain.