Although cramps always appear suddenly, there are different alternatives to relieve pain and relax the affected muscle. Know what the causes of this involuntary contraction are and what to do when it appears.
Who hasn’t ever experienced that sudden, intense pain that is characteristic of a cramp? If you don’t know what to do in case of suffering it, this article is for you. The first thing you should know is that this muscle contraction usually occurs after exercise, but it can also appear without an apparent cause.
Although muscle cramps are usually harmless and last a few minutes, it is no secret to anyone that they can be very painful and uncomfortable. Here’s more about this problem and how you can deal with it. Take note!
What is a cramp?
Cramps are nothing more than an involuntary contraction of the muscle. Most of the time, only a portion of the muscle tissue is contracted, and usually the muscles affected include those in the back of the calf and the back and front of the thigh.
Although they usually appear after performing some physical activity for a prolonged period of time or due to an overload of the muscle, it can also appear without the need for any direct trauma or muscle accident. The most common is that they occur, especially at night.
Causes of involuntary contraction.
As noted above, direct trauma does not cause cramping, as many people believe. In reality, the causes that cause it are a little more varied and are far from the blows to muscular structures. According to a publication from Harvard Medical School, the most common are:
- Do not warm up before exercising.
- Spinal problems.
- Muscle overexertion.
- Lack of some minerals.
- Insufficient blood supply to the muscle.
- Some medications.
What to do when a cramp occurs?
As you know, cramps can appear from one moment to another. One of the main factors in this involuntary contraction is the exaggerated effort of the muscles in some areas of the body. For quick relief when they do arise, the post mentioned above suggests the following practices.
- To relieve calf pain, wrap a blanket around your foot and gently pull toward you while keeping your knee straight.
- If the cramp appears in the front of your leg, stand up and lift your heels to stretch the affected muscle.
- For back cramps, it is recommended to perform the child’s pose. This is one of the most used poses in yoga to relax the muscles.
- As for the contraction of the back of the thigh, one of the best practices to find relief is to sit on the floor with the legs extended and lower the trunk slowly until you feel the cramped muscle stretch.
Alternatives to control a cramp.
There are many ways to mitigate involuntary muscle contraction. However, we know that reaction time may be limited because it is very likely to appear as a surprise. We show you some of the easiest and most practical ways to do it.
Massaging the affected muscle.
One of the most common ways to decrease pain and treat cramping is to gently massage the affected muscle. This practice is very easy to do and the results can be immediate. Remember not to apply too much pressure to avoid further pain.
How to do it?
- The first thing is to keep the body in a comfortable position, depending on the contracted muscle.
- Next, apply moderate pressure with one of your hands while massaging in circles. Doing this will promote blood circulation and make the cramp go away faster.
Apply heat to the cramp.
Applying heat to the muscle is also a good alternative to combat cramps and relax the affected area, especially when the pain does not subside after a few seconds. If you are going to use it directly on the skin, it is important to be careful with the temperature of the water to avoid burns.
How to do it?
- Take a lukewarm shower so that the heat of the water in the body is responsible for dissipating the involuntary contraction gradually. Hot water combined with steam can be very effective.
- Another option is to use hot water compresses. Soak the compress in the water and apply it directly to the affected area to improve muscle condition and relieve discomfort. You can also use a hot water bottle.
Hydrate the body.
Considering that another cause of cramps is dehydration, this option cannot be overlooked. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a day will not only help to reduce this problem, but also to have a better health in general.
It is necessary to be clear if the contraction appeared during the practice of any physical activity. In such a case, it would be directly related to body dehydration. So, just at the time of suffering it, it is recommended to ingest at least half a liter of water.
What to do if the cramps are recurrent?
It is important to emphasize that cramps are very common ailments in humans and do not pose any health risk. However, if they are very frequent and you notice that they interfere with your hours of rest, it is advisable to visit a trusted doctor in order to evaluate the affected muscles.