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Weve most likely all experienced it: a sudden acute pain in the calf or hamstring that makes us gasp for breath. Known as a charley horse, it occurs when a muscle, commonly in the leg, unexpectedly contracts and tightens up rock-hard. This frequently happens after a extreme or long exercise, particularly in heat, but cramps can also strike out of no place.
They may be caused by dehydration, overexertion, fatigue, or electrolyte deficiency, which trigger nerves to misfire; they normally disappear within 15 minutes, tend to become more common with age, and are more typical in women than in males. If a cramp lasts longer than 30 minutes, call your physician, since it could be a sign of a more severe problem such as a narrowed artery or a neurological condition, states Bryant Walrod, M.D., a sports medication physician at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
To assist keep muscles calm and the discomfort at bay, attempt these actions.
How to avoid muscle cramps
✔ Boost your physical fitness.
We lose muscle mass and strength as early as our 30s, which adds to fatigue and overexertion– crucial cramp sets off. “Regularly active muscles get utilized to contraction and are less inclined to spasm,” says Matthew Matava, M.D., chief of sports medicine at Washington University Orthopedics in St. Louis.
Start with moderate activity to prevent exaggerating it, and stretch before and afterward; this increases blood flow and extends muscle fibers to make them less most likely to tighten up involuntarily.
✔ Get your minerals.
Load up on fruits and vegetables rich in electrolyte minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and sodium, which assist trigger electrical signals that regulate muscle function. “Most people can get all the electrolytes they need in a healthy diet plan,” Dr. Matava says, so theres no requirement to sip sweet sports beverages. Leading food choices: leafy greens, bananas, and black beans.
✔ Drink up.
Fluid assists muscles relax and agreement, so down plenty of water throughout the day, specifically in heat when sweat diminishes the bodys fluid and electrolyte shops. Make certain to drink an hour previously, throughout, and after exercising to rehydrate.
How to get muscle cramp relief
✔ Work those muscles.
Carefully massage and extend a confined muscle to help it unwind. “Try contracting the muscle group opposite the one that is constraining; this makes use of the bodys typical reflex that shuts off a muscle that has the opposite function,” states Dr. Matava. Contracting the quad muscle at the front of the thigh can assist eliminate cramping of hamstring muscles in the back.
✔ Apply heat or ice.
A warm towel or a heating pad can help soothe the ouch by enhancing blood circulation. If discomfort sticks around post-cramps, ice can help tame inflammation and ease pain.
✔ Manage your medications.
Muscle cramps can be an adverse effects of some medications for hypertension, high cholesterol, and asthma. Ask your physician about a lower dose or a various drug that doesnt cause muscle convulsions.
This short article initially appeared in the September 2020 problem of Prevention.
Richard Laliberte is an acclaimed veteran health reporter and previous senior author at Mens Health who writes for a few of the nations best-known publications, blogs for WeightWatchers.com, and has actually authored numerous books.
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Understood as a charley horse, it happens when a muscle, typically in the leg, all of a sudden contracts and tightens up rock-hard. Load up on fruits and veggies rich in electrolyte minerals such as potassium, salt, and magnesium, which help trigger electrical signals that regulate muscle function. Carefully massage and stretch a confined muscle to assist it relax. “Try contracting the muscle group opposite the one that is cramping; this makes use of the bodys normal reflex that turns off a muscle that has the opposite function,” says Dr. Matava. Contracting the quad muscle at the front of the thigh can assist eliminate cramping of hamstring muscles in the back.