What To Do With Muscle Cramps

Calves are a common location for muscle cramps.I don’t like muscle cramps. I can’t imagine that anyone really likes them. We’ve all felt them. Whether we call it a charlie horse, muscle cramp or spasm what is happening is a muscle is involuntarily contracting, and while often short lived they are also rather painful. They can be caused by several different things and depending on the cause you may want to treat it a little differently. But regardless of the cause, when they hit here are some things you can do to right away to deal with the pain.

  • Stretch. It is far too easy when in any type of pain to tighten up your muscles. In the case of cramps, this will just make it worse. Stretching out the affected muscle helps to get the area to relax.
  • Apply pressure. Find the spot that is cramping and apply firm pressure until the pain starts to subside. This is often a reflex reaction but should be followed by stretching or massaging the affected area.
  • Massage. Similar to applying pressure you want to massage the area that’s cramping. You should also massage the area around the cramp to help get blood moving through the whole area. If the area is hard to reach and no one is around to rub it for you, consider using a foam roller or tennis ball.
  • Contract the opposite muscle group. When we get a cramp in our hamstrings one way to get it to relax is to contract the opposing muscles, in this case the quads. When you flex a muscle group it helps to disengage the opposite side.

Beyond the initial pain it’s important to look for the underlying cause to prevent cramps from happening again. Some of the most common things that cause cramping are dehydration, muscle fatigue, lack of stretching and poor circulation.  Other causes are often vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.

If you do find yourself getting muscle cramps, start by drinking more water, do some stretching and maybe get a massage. If the problem sticks around consider talking to someone about other things you can do to help.