5 Ways To Stop Muscle Cramps
Whether you’re in the middle of a workout or the middle of a night’s sleep, no one is immune to muscle cramps and spasms. Whether it’s a stomach or quad cramping up during a long run or the dreaded Charlie Horse in the night, cramps can catch you off guard and derail whatever you’re doing at the time. Luckily, there are some quick and effective things you can do to treat a cramp as soon as it hits. The more you know, the better off you are with cramps and spasms. They are usually caused by the overuse of a muscle, dehydration, a muscle strain or just holding the same position for too long. Here are the best ways to stop a muscle cramp after it starts:
1. Stop what you’re doing and stretch. Even if you have to sit down, take some weight off of the affected muscle and do some easy stretching. In addition to stretching you can gently rub out the muscle to stop it from tightening even more and making the cramp worse. You can find the knot in your bigger muscles where the contracting is happening and gently try and loosen it.
- 2. Hydrate! One of the biggest causes of muscle cramping is dehydration. After you have a chance to stretch, find water or a sports drink that includes electrolytes and bottoms up! Be patient. It might take a little bit of time to relieve the pain but it will also help prevent another cramp.
- 3. Apply hot and cold therapy. Applying heat to the affected muscle or muscle group can help relax a cramp by increasing blood flow to the area. It’s best to apply heat and massage for intervals of no more than 20 minutes at a time. After the initial muscle cramping subsides, switch over to cold therapy to decrease any swelling or inflammation the spasm may have caused. Apply a cold massage several times per day for no more than 20 minutes at a time.
- 4. Restore Electrolytes. After hydrating, try addressing your cramp with food. Snacking on either potassium or magnesium-rich foods can help a muscle spasm subside. Something like a few bites of a banana, orange, dark chocolate, or cashews can come in handy. Low levels of sodium, calcium and magnesium can prevent muscles from contracting normally so these are good foods to keep in your diet if you’re prone to muscle cramps.
- 5.Take a hot bath. In addition to ingesting magnesium-rich foods, many professionals in the space recommend soaking in Epsom salts. Similar to using heat therapy, the warmth of a nice bath or hot shower can provide instant relief by encouraging blood flow and improving circulation. If you’re not near a bath tub or shower, Epsom salts can also be put on a warm cloth and pressed up against the cramping muscle.
If you’re someone who is constantly facing muscle cramping and spasms it might be a sign you need to ramp up your intake of magnesium, calcium and sodium on a regular basis and drink more water. Sports drinks packed with sodium and electrolytes are great to quickly kick a cramp to the curb but drinking enough water throughout the day (and before a workout or competition) is even more important. Staying hydrated can help prevent cramps before they start. It also helps to increase your regular intake of magnesium and calcium-rich foods to prevent cramps before they start and ruin a race or workout. If you need to, you can also find a variety of vitamins to help up your regular intake without changing your diet. Try a magnesium, zinc or vitamin B, D and E supplement!