How to prevent cramps and relieve them?
What is a cramp and how to relieve it?
We have all experienced this intense pain in a muscle, like a contraction, which wakes us up in the middle of the night or which forces us to stop in the middle of a physical activity… in other words, cramps!
Cramps are a common problem that affects everyone, and is found more frequently in the elderly, pregnant women and athletes. Let's see what are the causes and the appropriate solutions.
In your opinion, what is the difference between a cramp and a muscle aches?
The cramp is characterized by intense pain in a muscle, which appears suddenly. The muscle is then painful, stiff and contracted when palpated and it is difficult to move the affected limb. This corresponds to an involuntary muscular contraction, visible and localized to a muscle. The cramp disappears after a few seconds to a few minutes but it can remain a painful and sensitive point for several hours. [ Cramps ]
Cramps most often affect the muscles of the lower limbs: calves , back and front of the thighs , soles of the feet . [ Muscle Cramps ]
They should not be confused with body aches , which are also common muscle pains during sport. They arrive a few hours or the next day after an unusual effort. The muscles become painful with the slightest movement and tender when touched. Aches correspond to small cracks in the muscles after too intense or prolonged effort. [Aches and cramps]
Most often the cramp occurs for no apparent reason and particularly at night (nocturnal cramps) and following physical exercise. Certain diseases or medications favor the appearance of cramps (such as chronic kidney disease and hemodialysis sessions, hypothyroidism, diabetes).
night cramps wake you up and force you to get up, walk around and stretch the muscle. The elderly and pregnant women are prone to this type of cramp.
Cramps related to physical exercise occur during the effort, when it is prolonged, intense, without preparation, or a few hours after the end of the effort. [ Cramps ]
How to get rid of cramps?
A cramp is painful, but it can be relieved with simple gestures.
If you have a cramp:
Stop the activity causing the cramp
Slowly stretch the muscle and massage: the goal is to activate the antagonist muscle to allow relaxation of muscle contraction
In the event of a calf cramp, for example: stand up, facing a wall about 50 cm from it and lean forward, leaning on the wall, keeping the sole of your foot on the ground. Hold the posture for 10 seconds, you should feel a slight tension in the calf. Then release.
Stand up to calm night cramps and stretch the sore muscle
Tips to prevent cramps
As a preventive measure, drink plenty of water (1.5 L recommended/day) without waiting to feel thirsty. Proper hydration before, during and after exercise is essential.
Always keep a water bottle on you to have water easily accessible wherever you are!
Eat healthy and favor foods rich in magnesium (rice, nuts, almonds, bananas, whole grains, pulses, etc.), especially if you are an athlete.
If you have frequent cramps during exercise:
Get ready with proper training
Remember to warm up the muscles well before exercise: the warm-up must be progressive and adapted
Be sure to compensate for water and mineral losses during and after exercise, and use sports drinks
Do a stretching session of the muscles that have worked the most and relaxation after the exercise
[ Muscle Cramps ]
If you are prone to night cramps: stretch the muscles that are affected by the cramps (calves, back of the thighs) before going to bed
If the cramps become very frequent and are accompanied by other symptoms (fever, tremors, lingering pain), consider consulting your doctor.
Why do we have cramps?
During muscle contraction, the muscle fibers retract thanks to an impulse sent by the nerves, which causes the muscle to shrink by 30 to 50%. The cramp occurs when the relaxation of the muscle does not occur and it therefore remains contracted.
The most affected muscles are the so-called bi-articular muscles, that is to say which cross two joints: these are the muscles of the calves, the back of the thigh and the front of the thigh. These muscles can easily find themselves in a shortened position during our movements, which makes them more prone to cramps. [ Muscle Cramps ]
There are still uncertainties as to the mechanism of onset of the cramps. On the other hand, we know that they occur following the increase in the excitability of the nervous structures responsible for controlling the muscles, leading to their involuntary and sudden contraction. Certain elements lead to a disruption of nerve control over the muscle.
This could be due to the imbalance of water and minerals in the muscle cells, linked to dehydration or intensive physical activity causing great fatigue.
Dehydration _ and the cramps
Excessive sweating and a lack of minerals (chlorine, magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium) not compensated by fluid and mineral intake, alters the balance of fluids in the body. This leads to an increase in pressure on the nerve endings and will cause contractions around the nerve, thus modifying its excitability and causing the muscle to contract suddenly.
This happens especially with severe dehydration and a significant loss of sodium.
Muscle fatigue and cramps
If the effort required is too intense and the muscles lack preparation, muscle fatigue will alter the control of nerve control, induce an abnormal neurological reflex and a tetanic contraction of the muscle.
Various factors could be at the origin of this reaction, in particular the increase in the intensity and the duration of the effort, a lack of training, tired and damaged muscles, etc.
The origin of cramps is therefore complex. Significant dehydration associated with muscle fatigue (due to an absence or poor warm-up, too intensive training) will therefore significantly increase the risk of cramps. Dehydration can also influence your mind, decrease your performance and itself be a source of fatigue.
The Hydratis solution allows you to maintain a good level of hydration, especially during sports. Its formulation rich in mineral salts (sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride) accelerates hydration and will reduce cramps and fatigue. We advise you to put 2 Hydratis pellets in your water bottle to be hydrated during exercise and thus avoid injuries. Find the opinions of our customers who talk about Hydratis 😊