Muscle spasms also called cramps are sudden contractions of a group of muscles experienced in any part of the body. They are very painful and last for a couple of minutes. Muscle cramps can affect any group of muscles, such as calf muscles, thigh muscles, arm muscles and neck muscles. They can happen while awake or asleep. Several activities or conditions can cause muscle spasms, such as engaging in strenuous exercise, diseases affecting blood circulation, such as kidney disorders, coronary or ischemic heart diseases; also, a deficiency of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, as well as dehydration, prolonged use of diuretic, steroid, statins or anti-psychotic medications. Sitting or standing in one position for long hours or keeping legs in awkward positions while sleeping can also trigger muscle spasms.
Quick remedies for dealing with Muscle Cramps
Since muscle cramps happen suddenly and last for a period of few seconds to a few minutes, a few handy tips to deal with them are essential.
- Massage or gently rub the area where the spasm pain is being felt. Shooting or sharp pain can be felt more often due to spasms.
- Try dabbing the affected area with a heated pad or ice pack (place a cloth between the pack/pad and the affected area). A warm bath or shower can also help relax the muscles.
- Drink electrolyte rich drinks such as sports drinks, lime water with salt, glucose water with salt or other oral rehydration solutions.
Preventing Muscle Spasms
- Hydrate yourself well with plenty of electrolyte-rich fluids such as lime water and coconut water, as well as plain water.
- Include mineral-rich fruits & vegetables in daily diet such as banana, peach, dried fruits such as dates and figs, as well as nuts such as almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, beans & legumes.
- Always begin daily exercise regime with stretching exercises. Increase intensity & duration of exercise gradually through the week, rather than in a few days.
- Avoid or limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
- If you experience recurrent muscle spasms, consult a physician without delay since it indicative of an underlying medical condition.
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