Muscle cramps are the results of the muscle suddenly tightening and cause extreme pain in that muscle, that can last between seconds to a couple of minutes.
I personally dealt with many while playing rugby in high school and in university, but still deal with sometimes when I go for a run or something or have an intense training session involving my legs, there are a couple of causes for muscle cramps, usually they aren’t that serious and aren’t underlying diseases or anything, but there are some potential threats to your health.
What Causes Muscles Cramps?
As mentioned before there are various causes for muscle cramps, but as the cramp is occuring, it is usually not known the reason for it as the possible causes below are dependent on the individual and could all be the reason:
- Overuse of a muscle: usually the case in high intensity activities, workouts or sports that makes you use a muscle for a long time
- Dehydration: not having enough fluid(like water) in your body or having used more than you’ve taken in, which results in your body not being able to perform its normal functions.
- Holding a certain position for your muscle in contraction for a long time can also cause a cramp.
How to Stop and Prevent Muscle Cramps
We sometimes can’t help overuse of a muscle or you happening to sweat a lot of your fluids out of your body, but there are ways to stop these muscle cramps as they are occuring and there are steps you can take to prevent another one from happening.
- Increasing the strength of the muscle or increasing your endurance to ensure that the muscle can be stronger under tension. This can be done through regular exercise. Exercising at least 15 minutes, 2 times a week consistently, can reap many benefits in the long-term, not only for your muscles but your health.
- Stretching is required to relieve your leg of the pain that occurs when a muscle cramps occur, but if you stretch regularly, you can ensure that your muscle is more relaxed on a regular basis and can prevent a cramp from occurring. About 5-10 minutes of stretching daily can relieve your body of any underlying tension that can come from working a desk job, heavy lifting job or one that requires you to move around a lot.
- Drinking more water and electrolytes will ensure that you prevent dehydration, try drinking at least 2 litres of water daily, especially when you’re planning to do high intensity training.
- Massages can help the muscles to relax just like stretching.
- Drinking less fluids that can cause dehydration, such as caffeine products or alcohol.
Muscle cramps can happen all over the body, the most important thing to do to handle them, is to relax because the muscle is already under a lot of tension, therefore don’t put it under more by being reactive to the pain that it is causing.
Foods that Help with Muscle Cramps
I am going to list food that can help with solutions that were mentioned above with regards to stopping and preventing muscle cramps, because it is necessary to have a takeaway from this. These foods either contain 1 or more of the following: sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium which are known as electrolytes (keep you hydrated and at an acid/base fluid balance in your body).
- Green Peas
I have listed food that I enjoy and eat, but there are many other foods that help with electrolytes and there are other electrolytes that your body produces naturally too, without requiring any food or supplementation unless your health condition requires it. These are high in electrolytes.
Many people have gone through a stint of muscle cramps in their life, but if they’re regularly reoccurring but occur out of the mentioned circumstances, you should see a doctor or another resource for it and ensure that there’s no underlying conditions. Otherwise, I hope that this was helpful and we go on with our lives with less muscle cramps and more fitness.