How to Stop or Prevent Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps attack suddenly, but usually only last for less than a minute. It is a common occurrence although it can be very painful for some individuals.

What causes muscle cramps and can it be prevented? What should you do if you have cramps?

How Does It Start

Most of the muscle cramps occur on the legs and is caused by strenuous activities, like exercise. It can also occur suddenly at night for no discernible reason.

Muscle cramps can happen to anyone, even healthy people who exercise regularly, but some are more susceptible to such an event. Individuals with tight calf muscles as a result of a sedentary lifestyle, accumulation of fluid in the lower leg through inactivity, dehydration and low levels of electrolytes, and a pre-existing nerve condition and thyroid problems will increase the chances of having muscle cramps.

In rare cases, muscle cramps mimic the symptoms of other medical conditions such as tetany, peripheral arterial disease, illusory muscle cramps, and involuntary muscle contractions.

What are Its Symptoms

Besides the legs, cramps can sometimes occur on the arms and abdomen. The intensity of the cramps can vary from nearly unnoticeable tics to very painful contractions. It could also last from a few seconds to a full 15 minutes depending on its cause and might even recur several times. The affected area might feel hard to the touch and could also twitch and distort depending on the intensity of the cramping. Fortunately, most muscle cramps are benign and will go away on their own without any treatment.

How to Prevent It

Some people are more likely to experience muscle cramps more frequently than others depending on their lifestyle. Athletes for example, tend to have cramps if they fail to condition their body or after an intense training session. The elderly are also prone to muscle cramps because of muscle atrophy caused by inactivity. To prevent muscle cramps, you should warm up by stretching properly before exercise and live an active life in general.

Avoid twisting or arching your back when stretching, however, because it can lead to injuries. Stay hydrated always and eat a healthy diet especially if you’re pregnant, because calcium and magnesium deficiency can also cause muscle cramps. Avoid prolonged exposure to heat or cold and avoid sitting or standing in the same position for a long time.

How to Treat It

Muscle cramps do not need any treatment, because they will usually go away on their own. However, you need to stop what you’re doing when you’re experiencing cramps. You can massage or stretch the affected area while waiting for the cramps to stop. You could also apply a hot compress on the cramping muscles, or a cold compress if your muscles feel sore, especially after an intense workout. If your cramps are severe, however, you need to see a doctor to determine its cause. It could be a symptom of a serious problem with your nerves, circulation, or hormones.

4 Workout Philosophies That Do More Harm Than Good

When we usually call a bad workout routine is more aptly called a bad workout philosophy. This happens when a person uses an approach in working out that only produces mediocre results while risking injury. So before you start any fitness regimen, know the following workout philosophies you should avoid.


  1. Focusing on Just a Single Muscle Group

We all know that training a particular muscle won’t work. In exercising, you need to work your entire body as each part of it moves in an integrated way. Keep in mind that all of your body systems work together and there is no way to train just select parts of your body that would give you any practical benefits.

  1. Pushing Yourself Too Hard

Going to a short, focused workout class is usually not good for most people since its injury rate is quite high. Experts even shared that people tend to quit training because they can’t keep up with such exercise. So instead of aggressively performing your routine, work towards your fitness goal gradually. For an effective workout, start at a slow pace during your first days of training and increase your intensity and duration bit by bit until you reach the goal you have in mind.


  1. Skipping Recovery Periods

Taking a day off from your workout routine won’t make you a slacker. By allowing yourself to take a break from exercising, you’re giving your body the chance to regenerate and produce good workout results. Performing back-to-back workouts with no rest days will likely just cause you to lose your motivation as it may lead you to injure or exhaust yourself, or worse, not deliver the results you might be expecting.

  1. Ignoring Signals from Your Body

If a particular part of your body is aching, then there must be some reason behind it that you should pay close attention to. Performing a pigeon pose in your yoga class, for instance, won’t be enough cause for an aching knee – there must be some tension and lack of mobility in the other parts of your body that’s causing this.

This why it’s important that you pay attention to your workout routines and see if your body can keep up with it. If you experience similar problems when you work out, recognize it give time to let the injured part heal to avoid further injuries that may be more damaging.

Although following some exercising philosophies can be beneficial for your workout routine, there are still some that we shouldn’t practice because not only will it harm us, it will only provide us with mediocre workout results.


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