These 3 things will help your muscle cramps go away
November 02, 2017
We have all had them. Those nasty muscle cramps that get us when we're working out at the gym, running a race, or even sleeping. They're painful, unannounced and most unwelcome.
They come not only as cramps, but as stitches, aches and tightness. And when they pop up, they stop our fitness activity cold in its tracks.
What to do?
Experts agree, don't power through these issues. This is where real and long-lasting injury can occur and hamper your future fitness regimen. Just stop what you're doing and address the issue at hand ... leg or foot.
Here are 3 common muscle ailments that many of us have endured either at the gym or on a run, and some of the treatments you can use for them:
Hard, tight and painful, these are sometimes referred to as "charley horses". Cramps are caused by muscle spasms – involuntary contractions of one or more muscles.
Many things can trigger a muscle cramp. They include:
- Poor blood circulation in your legs
- Working calf muscles too hard while exercising
- Not stretching enough
- Being active in hot temperatures
- Muscle fatigue
- Magnesium and/or potassium deficiency
- In addition, certain medications may cause them as well so check with your doctor if that's a possibility with certain drugs.
What to do:
If you feel the cramp in your left calf, step your right foot forward and sink into a lunge with your front thigh parallel to the ground and front heel pressing down. Hold, then step your rear foot forward, walk four or five steps, and then repeat a few more times on the same side.
That intense stabbing pain usually found under your rib cage, also known as "exercise-related transient abdominal pain". Side stitches can be caused by the pumping action of the legs putting pressure on the diaphragm from below, while rapid breathing expands the lungs and puts pressure on the diaphragm from above. This “dual pinching” effect shuts off the flow of blood and oxygen, and causes pain, cramps or both.
Also, eating food too close to the time you do physical exertion may cause these pain as well.
WHAT TO DO:
To fix it take a few deep belly breaths, then press two fingers directly into the affected area. As you apply pressure, continue taking deep breaths and lean toward your opposite side from your hips. Hold for several seconds or until you feel the pain subside.
Foot cramps happen when a muscle in your foot suddenly squeezes and can’t relax. Foot cramps can also signal muscular fatigue, as repeatedly flexing and extending the foot over the course of a longer race, for example, can cause muscles to work overtime.
WHAT TO DO:
To fix a foot cramp, stand tall and still. Keeping your shoes on, shift your weight onto the cramped foot and press into it as much as possible. If it helps, focus on spreading your toes apart. Lift your opposite foot off the ground to stand on one leg if needed. Apply full body-weight pressure onto the affected foot for up to one minute.
A final thought ... Stretching and hydrating
These two activities -stretching and hydrating - are critical to any type of exercise we do and certainly contribute to the reduction of the debilitating muscle spasm.
Stretch. Warm up your muscles, especially when you know you’ll be using them for a long time. Stretch both before and after you exercise. If you tend to get leg cramps at night, make sure to stretch before you go to bed. Doing a few minutes of light exercise like stationary bike riding before you sleep can help your muscles relax better while you sleep, too.
Hydrate. Plenty of water throughout the day can help ward off cramps. Your body’s cells are happier when they have lots of fluids. Drink more when you’re more active, or when the weather is hot or dry. Keep the water flowing. That'll help you and your muscles stay hydrated, relaxed and happy.