Muscle cramps are a sudden, uncontrollable contraction of the muscle. There are a number of reasons why you might experience them:
- These cramps are caused by over activity of the nerves that control contraction.
- If calcium, potassium or magnesium levels are low, nerve endings become more active.
- Diuretics like tea and coffee, hyperventilation, excessive vomiting or inadequate nutrition can cause a reduction calcium and magnesium levels.
- People who over-exercise can get muscle cramps due to electrolyte imbalances and dehydration.
- This is more likely in hot weather, when more fluids, salts and minerals are lost through sweat.
- Poor circulation to muscles can also cause muscle cramps.
- Older people are more likely to get muscle cramps, due to reduced muscle tone.
- Cramps are also common during pregnancy.
Symptoms of muscle cramps
- Intense, deep muscle pain.
- Visible or obvious hardening of the muscle.
- A cramp can reoccur several times before going away.
- Cramps are common at night and night cramps generally affect calf muscles and feet.
How to manage muscle cramps
Most muscle cramps will stop if you are able to stretch the affected muscle. This can be as simple as standing up or walking around. If the cramp is in your calf, you should keep your leg straight and raise you ankle so your toes point towards your head.
Gentle message or applying heat will help the muscle to relax and improve blood circulation. If the cramp is due to dehydration, replace fluids and electrolytes with a sports drink.
Regular exercise is a good way to avoid muscle cramps. Try to exercise the muscles that cramp up most often. Staying hydrated in essential. Avoid drinks like coffee, tea and cola that increase fluid loss from the kidneys and can increase your chances of muscle cramps. The most important factor in managing muscle cramps is maintaining essential minerals. This can be done simply, through supplements –
This helps your body maintain normal muscle and nerve function. As an important electrolyte and mineral, it plays a key role in the creating nerve impulses and muscle contraction. It is also plays an important role in regulating other minerals and transporting potassium and calcium across cell membranes to allow a muscle to relax after flexing.
Potassium and calcium
These are two other minerals that play a critical role in normal muscle operation. Low levels will make muscle cramps likely. Combining these three minerals may be beneficial in correcting electrolyte imbalances and reducing muscle cramps. Leg cramps associated with pregnancy can also be relieved with calcium and magnesium supplements.
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Published November 26, 2012
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