There are many problems with cramps. The most important and crucial one is that they hurt really bad. The other problem is that they can occur almost anywhere in the body, and the reason that you develop a cramp can vary. Being able to stop a cramp is sometimes dependent upon what is causing it and sometimes it is not. The things that will work for one type of muscle cramp may not work for another. Frustrating, but true, the only way to find relief for a muscle cramp, or spasm, is through trial and error.
What is a cramp?
A cramp is when a muscle contracts and will not release. Because it will not release, it starts to become weak and spasm. It is the spasms that are the source of pain. To rid yourself of a muscle cramp, you may find relief with one thing or a combination of many. Before you go reaching for the pharmaceuticals, there are other things that can help.
10 Ways to get rid of cramps
Often the source of a cramp is dehydration. When the body, or a specific muscle in the body does not get enough fluid, it will begin to contract. That is why so many athletes, participating in endurance sports, have to cut things short due to a cramp. The best thing to stave off a cramp or to prevent one, is to make sure that you maintain good hydration. That isn’t just for those who are athletes; it is possible to succumb to muscle cramps due to hot weather or excessively dry conditions. If you are experiencing a cramp, the first thing to do is drink a lot of water.
2. Sports drinks
Sports drinks are not just good because of the water that they contain. A true sports drink will have something called electrolytes. An electrolyte is the charge that a cell has. When you have an electrolyte balance it is not uncommon to experience cramping. When you sweat profusely, and don’t replenish what is lost, you upset the balance within the cell. When the water evaporates all, that is left, is salt. That imbalance can, not only cause cramps, it can be life threatening and toxic.
When you are low in potassium it can lead to cramps, specifically in the calves or lower extremities. Making sure to get enough potassium in your diet is a good idea, especially if you are prone to cramps. When you feel one coming on, grab a banana, rich in this needed vitamin, they taste good too.
When you have a cramp it means that the muscle is contracting. It can be from dehydration or overuse, or even from exhaustion. The best way to get a muscle to stop contracting, is to massage it. If you have a charlie horse, the way to cure it is to walk around. The reason is that you are forcing the muscle to work, and that stops the contraction. The same is true of massage. By massaging the muscle, you can make it stop contracting. For cramp relief mayo-facial massage or deep tissue massage, are great ways to signal the muscle to stop contracting, and it may afford you some relief.
If you are experiencing a muscle cramp on a specific muscle, you can try to use heat. Sometimes when you apply heat to the cramp it will relax the muscle and provide you with some relief. This is true not only of back spasms or muscle contractions, but of cramps that are caused by injury. There is no amount of time that is too great to apply it. As long as it is working, it is okay to use a warm compress.
6. Walk it off
If you are getting cramps in your legs, or lower extremities, sometimes all that you need to do is to get up and walk it off. Cramps can be caused by a substance called lactic acid. Most common these types of cramps occur after a workout. When lactic acid builds up in the muscle, it can cause cramps and pain. The best thing to do is to walk it off, or warm up the aching muscle. By getting up and moving around, it will force the muscle to release the lactic acid, and will provide you some relief from the pain.
If you are suffering from a cramp that is due to an injury, you can try applying ice to it. Sometimes numbing the area can make a cramp better, especially if it is more like a spasm. If it is an injury and you aren’t finding that much pain cessation with ice, you can try alternating ice with heat. For the first 24 to 48 hours stick with a 20 minutes off, 20 minutes on, regimen. After that, whichever one provides you the best pain benefit, is the method you should use.
When you have a cramp sometimes you can get rid of it by stretching. Depending on where the muscle cramp is, sometimes just stretching the muscle out will force it to stop contracting. You have to be careful though. Don’t ever stretch a cold muscle. Before you attempt to stretch out a cramp, you should always warm up the muscle by moving around. Stretching a cold muscle can lead to injury or more spasms.
There are many products that you can get over the counter that will numb the pain associated with a muscle cramp. Ice-hot or Ben-Gay are two such products that work below the skin’s surface to numb the pain of cramping and to signal the muscle to relax. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t, it really depends on why you are experiencing a cramp.
10. Take a hot bath with Epsom salt
To help a muscle cramp, draw a hot bath and add a cup of Epsom salt to it. Soaking in a hot tub will do wonders to relax the muscle and to stop it from spasming. The epsom salt is also known to aid in tire and sore muscles which adds additional benefit.