How To Stop Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps can quickly ruin an afternoon’s workout session. They’re painful and sometimes take hours to go away. Ridding yourself of the cramps starts with finding the reason your muscles are cramping. Here are some tips to help you diagnose the cause of your cramps and prevent them during future workouts.
One of the most common causes of cramps is dehydration. To prevent cramps caused by dehydration, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Chugging water right before a workout can lead to more cramps but as long as your keep yourself hydrated all day, you shouldn’t need to stock up on water or sports drinks right before working out. However, if you often cramp up during your exercises, you should try drinking two cups of water before your workout and then drink a few ounces of water every 20 minutes while exercising to keep your hydration levels up. If you tend to sweat a lot during workouts, you’ll want to drink a sports drink to replace sodium and electrolytes lost in the sweat.
Cramps can also be a sign that you’re deficient in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, three minerals that are vital in keeping your muscles and nerves working properly. If cramping is a constant problem, consider taking vitamin supplements to help keep your supply of these important minerals up. You should also be sure to eat foods rich in these minerals like bananas, cheese or yogurt, dried apricots, chocolate, prunes, and seafood. Taking a Vitamin E supplement can also help keep your blood flowing through your arteries more easily and help prevent cramps.
Once you have a cramp, there are ways to make it go away. Start by massaging the center of the cramp. Hold your finger, the heel of your hand, or a clenched fist on the center and massage for about 10 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. It will hurt a little but continue to do that in 10-second intervals until the pain subsides. You can also use a heating pad; you’ll hold it on the cramped muscle for about 20 minutes and then rest for 20 or 30 minutes before reapplying the pad. You can also take a long, hot shower or soak in a hot bath. Add Epsom salts to your bath to provide extra magnesium that will help your muscles relax.
Of course you’ll always want to warm up and down properly with walking or some light jogging and plenty of stretching. These simple steps can help prevent the cramps from starting if your muscles are warmed up and stretched.
If you’re experiencing constant and/or excruciating cramps that last a day or longer you should consider seeing your doctor to make sure you have no underlying causes like embolisms or thrombosis. While there’s plenty you can do at home to help ease your cramps, if they’re caused by these conditions, you’ll need medical help. As long as your cramps aren’t a sign of something more serious, there are no long-term effects of cramps, only the temporary discomfort.