If you are into sports, athletics or during a simple workout, then you are likely to get muscle cramps once in a while. Your cramps sometimes may not have any explainable reason. Most cramps last for a few seconds to 15 minutes and can be treated with home remedies.
Sometimes sitting in one position for a long time can also give rise to muscle cramps. Stress, fatigue, overuse or dehydration are the real causes of the cramps in the muscles.
Malnutrition and body's lack of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium can also cause muscle cramps. In most cases calves in the legs and thigh muscles get affected, but other areas of the body such as neck , hands and abdominal wall can also get muscle constriction leading to cramps.
The main symptoms are intense pain, swelling and redness in the affected area. Brain gets a signal from the contracted muscle and release pain chemicals.
You may not require any medical help or medicines in most cases of simple muscle cramps. The following simple common sense practices and home remedies can help you to get rid of the muscle cramps within a short period.
1. Hot Compress followed by Cold Compress
Applied heat in the affected area improves blood circulation around the muscles and relax the contracted muscle. Take a hot compress bottle for 10- 15 minutes and you would begin to feel relieved of the pain.
If you don't have a hot compress bottle readily available, then use cloth. Just dip a cotton cloth in warm water, squeeze the excess water out and apply it on the affected area. Keep another cloth ready to replace when the first one is not hot enough to provide relief.
2. Drink Electrolytes to Hydrate and Relax Muscles
When your body gets dehydrated, it losses important minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium causing muscles to contract. Therefore, it is important to intake such minerals orally to compensate for the loss.
Drink any commercially available electrolyte energy drink or buy from your nearest chemist or pharmacy.
You can prepare an electrolyte drink at home. Add half a teaspoon of black salt powder to a glass of water. Add some sugar for taste.
3. Massage the Affected Area to Relax Cramped Muscles
Massaging the affected area will improve the blood circulation by providing the required heat. It works in a very similar way as the hot compress. You don't need any extra material and you can do it yourself if people are not around you.
Massage the area in a single direction to straighten the stiff muscle. After 10 minutes of massage take a warm shower. This will immediately release the pain and relax you.
In addition to the above 3 simple remedies to get relief from muscle cramps and avoiding the probabilities of the cramp next time, you should take the following precautions.
Drink enough water two hours before before getting into strenuous activities. Then keep drinking water every 15 minutes during the activity. If you sweat during your activities, then you will be losing minerals. Drink energy drinks with electrolytes during the process.