6 Tips to Relieve Muscle Cramps - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on August 21, 2015

6 Tips to Relieve Muscle Cramps

Try these tips to help prevent or treat muscle cramps.

Try these tips to help prevent
or treat muscle cramps.

If you’ve never woken up in the middle of the night with the excruciating pain of a charley horse, consider yourself lucky. Those who have, however, know exactly how awful muscle cramps can be, especially when they tear you out of your pleasant dreamland. Fortunately, there are ways you can help prevent your muscles from tightening or alleviate the pain if it’s already occurring.

First, a quick glance at the agonizing phenomenon. According to research, the older you are, the more likely you are to get muscle cramps, which occurs when a muscle contracts involuntarily; in fact, up to half of people over the age of 60 get them. They can occur at any moment of the day, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to even a few painful minutes. While the cause is unknown, known risk factors include mineral deficiencies, dehydration, poor muscle conditioning, and use of certain medications.

To help prevent or treat muscle cramps, try the following:

Stretch

If you have a leg or foot cramp, sit or lie down and flex the toes of your cramped foot or leg upwards. This pulls the muscles in the opposite direction of the contraction. The CDC also recommends doing some stretches before bed to prevent nighttime cramps, such as these that stretch your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and arms.

Massage the Cramp

Another way to treat muscle cramps is to massage the area where the cramp is occurring.

Drink Plenty of Water

While the connection between dehydration and muscle cramps hasn’t been proved by medical research, many believe it has a significant influence.

Add More Minerals To Your Diet

Researchers have found a connection between muscle cramps and low levels of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. If you don’t take a multi-vitamin, consume foods that are high in these nutrients, such as bananas, oranges, brown rice, almonds, avocados, and spinach.

Sleep on Your Side

Avoid sleeping on your back under blankets that are tightly tucked into the bed, which adds extra pressure onto your muscles that can potentially lead to cramping. Instead, reduce the weight on your feet by loosening the covers and sleep on your side with your knees bent.

Check Your Shoes

Opt for footwear that has good arch support. And ladies, try to avoid high heels if you can, as they add extra stress to the muscles in your feet and calves.

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