When you have more intense muscle contractions than usual, you run the risk of cramping. The muscle shortens and contracts beyond your control. This leads to discomfort and pain. Muscle fatigue represents the main reason for cramps. It tends to occur in spasms. The muscle bulges then relaxes. This cycle may continue throughout the rest of the day. They generally occur hours after a workout as opposed to during it. Here are some tips to stop cramps:
- Make sure you have enough electrolytes.
Most people down a lot of water to prevent cramps. This dilutes the electrolytes. When these are low, it makes the problem even worse. You can use pickle juice as a quick solution.
- Make sure you get enough magnesium and calcium.
Most people know to get enough potassium and sodium. They know to eat bananas. Magnesium is as an electrolyte too. Make sure you get this through green leafy vegetables. Get enough calcium too. Consume dairy and green vegetables.
- Drink enough water, but not too much.
For those that sweat a lot, water loss can be a problem. Drink enough water without getting a full belly. Use common sense here. Caffeine can dehydrate you. Make sure you compensate for this water loss.
- Have a well-rounded diet.
More electrolytes exist beyond the two known ones, sodium and potassium. You need a mix of vitamins and minerals to make sure the body works properly. Low B and D vitamins along with zinc seem to share a connection with cramping. Consider a multivitamin. Get some sun for vitamin D3.
A warm-up increases the body’s temperature. This allows better blood flow. Poor circulation may cause cramping. Make sure your clothes fit loosely. Avoid tight clothes that can harm movement.
The lower body seems prone to cramping. Due to the constant sitting we do each day, our muscles stay short. This causes muscles to work harder throughout ranges of motion that feel unusual and tight. This may make them more likely to cramp. Stretching restores a balance. It also serves to further warm you up. If experiencing a cramp, stretch to relieve it.
- Consider a cool-down.
A cool-down allows gradual relaxation. Light exercise after a hard workout can help calm you. This makes muscles less likely to spasm. A warm bath or massage can help soothe them too.
- Stay consistent.
Any sort of hard work can carry the risk of cramping. Even elite athletes experience it. Most people are not active enough though. They put forth only a modest effort here and there. Work hard and consistently. Your muscles will adapt to the stress. When not exercising intensely, consider walking on the off days. This allows you to stay active with overburdening your recovery.
- Build up gradually.
Make changes in the intensity and volume of exercise when you feel prepared. Dramatic differences from your baseline lead to overexertion. This occurs especially when returning after a long layoff. This makes cramping more likely. Avoid too much volume. Make all exercise you do purposeful. Cramps associate with repetitive motions. Running for long distances is a major culprit. Cramping occurs less rarely from intense, brief activities. Consider intervals or shorter distances instead. Also, always be careful in warm weather. The heat makes you work harder. You also lose more water.
Cramps grow worse with attention. This comes due to the overexcited state of the muscles. This seems hard to avoid since the pain can feel severe. You need to get your body to relax. Biting on your lip, pinching skin on your forearm, or another diversion can help the body relax. Take deep breathes. Try your best to chill out. The spasm will not last as long and strongly.
- Avoid drugs
It may feel tempting to pop a pill. Research shows that muscles recover less fully when using anti-inflammatories and relaxants. Instead, practice the other natural solutions to stop cramps.