Preventing cramping may be a question of good habits. Drinking liquids and stretching are key.
Muscle spasms, also known as cramps, can be quite painful for anyone who suffers one. They are uncontrollable contractions that produce a great deal of tension and can develop in any muscle of the body, though they occur most often in the legs or back.
According to the United States National Library of Medicine (NIH), cramping can be caused by doing exercise without drinking enough liquids or having low levels of minerals such as potassium or calcium. When cramping occurs, the muscle may be left weakened and its main symptom is feeling hard to the touch, like a knot under the skin.
“Calf spasms commonly occur when kicking while swimming or when running. They can also develop at night when you are in bed. Spasms in the upper part of the leg are more common with activities such as running or jumping. Neck spasms (cervical spine) may be a sign of stress,” says an NIH report.
To treat a cramp, it is recommended that one stretch and massage the muscle, or drink water with effervescent salts to replenish minerals if the cause is dehydration. Cold and hot therapies can also be applied in the affected area to reduce tension. More serious cases may even require antispasmodic medications, physiotherapy, or even surgery, if an irritated nerve is affected.
These episodes can be prevented by stretching to increase flexibility, changing one’s workout method if it is high-intensity, and staying hydrated while working out, as well as consuming more sources of potassium such as bananas or oranges.
If a spasm causes a lot of pain, is repetitive, or does not go away and spreads to other parts of the body, you should consult a medical specialist about it.
Also read: How to prevent cramping