Know the Cramps!
Many of us, at some point in our life, suffer from a sudden, involuntary, uncontrolled muscle pain known as cramps or spasms.
Usually, the cramps are related to loss of fluids and minerals (potassium, magnesium and calcium) by constant vomiting or diarrhea, or heavy sweating during exercise.
Although muscle cramps may occur due to any excessive or unusual muscle movement and even stay long in the same position (sitting, standing, etc.).
Importantly cramps can affect any muscle in the body, but most common can be in the calves, thighs, feet and hands.
What are the causes of cramps?
Overdoing exercise is one of the main causes, but also other conditions such as stress, cold, dehydration , decreased levels of potassium and mineral salts or certain diseases can produce cramps.
The diuretics can cause sodium depletion and in some cases also cause potassium loss. Many patients using diuretics are also in sodium-restricted diets. If you have leg cramps and are taking a diuretic, consult your doctor to find a way to restore the levels of sodium and potassium.
When there is lack of physical activity and you spend most of the day sitting, the muscles of the legs and calves and feet do not work as they should. This causes a tightening of the muscles, which during relaxation in sleep can lead to contractions and therefore nocturnal leg cramps.
Pregnant women also experience leg cramps. In this case, after having the baby, everything returns to normal.
Calcium and magnesium have been shown to help prevent cramps associated with pregnancy. An adequate intake of these two minerals during pregnancy is important for this and other reasons. But you should consult with your doctor to know what the recommended dose is.
The people most likely to suffer muscle cramps are athletes when subjected to intense or prolonged training and the elderly because of normal loss of muscle (atrophy), beginning in the mid-40s and accelerates with inactivity.
Tips to prevent Cramps
Some recommendations for people who suffer from muscle cramps are:
- Stretching before exercise, is important for the muscles since it make muscles less tense and there will be less chance of injury or cramp.
- Avoid exercising in extreme heat or cold .
- Drink plenty of fluids, before or after prolonged physical activity especially in summer.
- Follow a healthy diet: The likelihood of developing cramps may be reduced if foods containing vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin E, niacin, magnesium and potassium is added in the diet.
- Loosen clothing: If you feel a cramp is about to attack, you should loosen tight clothing to give some space to your muscles.
- Take a warm bath before bedtime may increase circulation to the legs and reduce the incidence of night cramps.
- Practice relaxation techniques and meditation which helps to reduce the pain associated with muscle cramps.
- Do exercises to strengthen your ankle muscles If you suffer from frequent muscle cramps in the ankle area, we recommend stretching exercises to strengthen these muscles.
- Stand on tiptoe. To strengthen the calves you should raise yourself slowly on toes, then gradually return to the initial position. Do this ten times a day
- Sleep in the correct position. Sleeping on your stomach with your legs bent and calves is an invitation to cramps. Try sleeping on your side with your knees bent.
- Take more calcium. Lack of calcium can cause the muscles to become weak, uncontrollable and painful.
- Adopt a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, including green leafy vegetables, soybeans, nuts, yogurt, whole grains and pumpkin seeds, sesame and sunflower.
- Wear socks while sleeping to keep feet warm because exposing it to cold night can cause cramps in the calves.
- Avoid beverages containing caffeine and soft drinks, as it can lead to dehydration
- Avoid sitting in a position that restricts the flow of blood (as sitting cross legged for a long time).
- To relieve a cramp in the calf, the person must stand up and put weight on the side of the leg cramp while slightly bending the knee.
- Some people say that putting the affected part in warm water relieves the cramp.
- Another option is to gently massage the affected part either by hand or with a washcloth wet with warm water.
1) Eucalyptus or Rosemary oil for painful cramps
The oil of eucalyptus or rosemary is wonderful natural solutions to relieve painful cramps because their characteristics generate heat in the skin which helps to reduce the feeling of discomfort.
2) Hot bath to reduce muscle cramps
A good hot bath will help reduce nuisance of cramps as heat stimulates circulation favorably.
3) Buckeye to relive muscle cramps
The buckeye is another natural solution to relieve cramps, because it contains aescin, which is a great ally to tone the arteries and capillaries, strengthen vein walls and relieving the symptoms of cramps. You can buy it in a health food store and most common way to consume it is as capsules.
4) Grape leaves help to increase blood flow to reduce cramps
The ointments, capsules or teas containing grape leaves are also recommended to relieve cramps naturally. Helps facilitate blood flow and tension veins significantly reducing the discomfort caused by muscle spasms.
Apply a massage in the opposite direction to the course of pain which gradually stretch the muscle and relax them.
6) Elastic Bandage
Wrap the area suffering cramp with an elastic bandage to reduce pain. However, care must be taken not to bandage too tight, as this can cause swelling.
7) Ginkgo biloba: a natural remedy for muscle cramps
Take an infusion of Ginkgo biloba. To do this, you should boil three tablespoons of ginkgo in a cup of water for 10 minutes. After that, remove from heat let cool and drink a cup daily.
8) Essential oils: good for all kinds of cramps
Apply essential oils such as eucalyptus, pine,rosemary or thyme several times a day as they give a feeling of warmth that helps relax area.
9) Apple cider vinegar and honey
Mix a tablespoon of honey and another of apple cider vinegar in a cup of hot water. Drink for proper distribution of calcium in the body and prevent chronic cramps.
10) Mustard seeds
Mix a teaspoon of mustard seeds in a liter of water. Boil for 10 minutes, add wáter and do a leg bath for 20 minutes.
Perform a vigorous massage with tincture of myrrh spread with a warm cloth on the affected area.
Apply in the area with cramps, cloths soaked with arnica or apple cider vinegar infusion for 5 minutes. Arnica relieves pain and stimulates circulation.
13) Bend the toes for a foot cramp
Bend the toes downward and upward to relieve foot cramps.
14) Baking soda
Pour 1 teaspoon baking soda in a glass of water. Mix and drink. This remedy is not recommended if you have high blood pressure or fluid retention.
15) Banana yogurt juice
Pour 1 cup skim milk, 1/2 cup light yogurt, 1 banana peeled, 1/2 cup of natural orange juice in a blender and blend on medium speed. Drink a glass of this juice every other morning. The banana provides potassium. It is therefore recommended to consume regularly and avoid those pesky cramps.
16) Cumin seeds
Put 1 teaspoon cumin seeds in 1/2 liter of water. Marinate for 1 hour. Apply through a clean cloth on the affected area.
Dilute 2 drops of essential oil of lemongrass , 4 drops of nutmeg and 4 drops of coriander oil in 20 ml almond oil and massage on the affected area until the pain reduces.
18) Healing juice for cramps
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 grapefruit
Wash the celery and place in blender with a little water. Blend and strain. Then squeeze the grapefruit. Mix the juices. Drink one glass daily.
19) Hot and cold compress
Apply hot and cold compresses to increase blood flow to the affected muscles.
Boil two tablespoons ginger root in a cup of water for 10 minutes. Then let cool and drink a cup before bedtime to prevent cramps.
21) Mix 1 teaspoon lemon juice, one of honey, cloves and a tablespoon of ginger wine and pour in half a cup of boiling water. Allow to stand 24 hours. Drink three tablespoons bedtime.
22) Epsom salts
Pour 1/2 cup Epsom salts in the bathwater Magnesium content in these salts promotes relaxation of muscles.
23) Sage flowers
When they are caused by extreme cold, heat a skillet on sagebrush leaves and flowers. Then rub the affected area with the same and leave it for a while on the skin with a towel covering them.
Consult a doctor if the cramps:
- Lasts more than a day or if it continues, despite trying these home remedies above.
- They occur in the lower back or neck with pain that radiates down the leg or arm.
- It is in the lower right part of the belly as it can be a sign of appendicitis.
Aceer on December 20, 2014:
they used pickle juice the idea has intgeruid me. However I don't really suffer from cramps. And I hate pickles. So I'll probably never try it. But it's still intriguing.
healthcarepro (author) from Somewhere on Earth on July 07, 2014:
Banana is indeed a miracle fruit.. I have some tips for you to control leg cramps at night..
• Place a pillow to support your feet when sleeping on your back
• If you sleep on your stomach, try keeping your feet on the edge of the bed
• Keep loose bedding around the feet. Often the bed tight clothing can cause toes and feet if left in an unnatural position overnight and therefore cause cramps
• Wear proper footwear during the day. If you must stand for long periods of time make sure your shoes are comfortable and with the right support. Regularly wearing high heels can also cause night cramps
• Stretch before bedtime. Try doing some simple stretches for your calves before going to bed to prevent cramps to occur.
• If you have a lot of activity, take adequate water and fluids throughout the day to avoid dehydration.
• Limit your intake of salt and sodium during the day, as this can increase fluid loss and potassium accordingly.
Actually I was writing an article on how to reduce night cramps.. Thought this portion is apt here.. and now I am thinking of updating this one with home remedies for night cramps too..
Btw.. Thank you for visiting, voting and commenting.
Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on July 06, 2014:
You certainly provided a lot of at-home treatments to prevent or stop muscle spasms. Sometimes I awaken during the night with a very painful cramp in the calf of my leg or in my foot. I always get out of bed and (when it's my foot) bend my toes back and forth, or (when it's my calf) deeply massage the calf muscle.
These measures work, but take a few minutes during which the pain is awful! I know they're caused by need for potassium, so I often have a banana as my after-dinner dessert. White potatoes also have a lot of potassium--actually, more than bananas.
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