Muscle cramps are usually caused by physical over-exertion, dehydration, stress or fatigue. It could happen while you are exercising, or if a part of your body has remained in one position for several hours. However, if you experience a cramp, say in the leg, while going to sleep or a muscle suddenly gets cramped for no ostensible reason, it may be a warning signal that your body is running low on potassium, magnesium and calcium, the essential minerals that regulate the activity of your nerves and muscles. You can get enough potassium through fruits and vegetables, but if you are on a high-protein diet your system may be deficient in potassium, and you will perhaps need to make some modifications in your diet to get those muscles functioning smoothly. Check out some of the methods listed below to banish cramps.
Getting rid of muscle cramps
- Get yourself an electric pad, set it on low, and place it on the painful muscle, it will relax the cramp by increasing blood circulation to the affected tissue. Let it remain for 20 minutes, then take if off for another 20 minutes before repeating the process.
- Take a lengthy, warm shower or soak yourself in a warm bath. For better results, add a cup of Epsom salt to the water, as the magnesium in it helps the muscles relax.
- Feel the cramp with your hand to locate its central point, then gently press this point with your thumb or fingers or a clenched fist. Keep applying and reducing pressure. The cramp should ease after you have done this several times.
- Mix oil of wintergreen and vegetable oil, one part of the former and four parts of the latter, and gently rub it into the muscle where the cramp has occurred. Wintergreen has a substance called methyl salicylate, which relaxes the cramp and promotes blood circulation.
- Before going to bed, drink some tonic water which contains quinine. Studies have shown that quinine is very beneficial for night-time leg cramps, but don’t take it in tablet form as it can have adverse effects on the ears and eyes.
- Yet another way to prevent night-time leg cramps is to take 250 mg of vitamin E every day as this will improve blood circulation.
- Cramps are mostly caused by dehydration, so if you find that they occur all too frequently, immediately increase your daily intake of water.
An apt dose of minerals
- Deficiency of electrolytes, which include minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium, can cause cramps. Natural sources of magnesium are wholegrain breads, cereals, nuts and beans. Fruits and vegetables, especially bananas and oranges, have enough potassium, while you can get your daily supply of calcium from dairy foods.
- If muscle cramps persist even after you have made appropriate dietary modifications, you probably need to take 500 mg of calcium and an equal amount of magnesium twice every day, or as per your doctor’s prescription.