WHAT IS IT?
Cramp is an involuntary and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax. So your muscle is contracting strongly and you cannot consciously stop it. Cramp can happen in any muscle in the body.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Cramp can be caused by a large range of reasons, here are the top 4 I see causing cramp.
1. Inadequate hydration
2. Mineral deficiencies including magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium (depending on what you read and the human.)
3. Muscle overuse (eg. completeing a marathon without adequate training)
4. Accumulation of all of the above over a period of time.
Example A: not doing quite enough training for a marathon, so cram the last 4 weeks of training (increase load before body is ready).
Not taking on enough water in the weeks leading into the marathon. Remember cells take time to hydrate and you cannot fully hydrate your body by drinking 4L of water the day before an event. You are also training more leading up to the event so should be hydrating well whilst training.
This example may also be not eating enough of the right food at the right times while training in the weeks before, which leads to an electrolyte imbalance and mineral deficiencies (sweating lots during training with inadequate replenishment).
BOOM you are 30km into your marathon (42km) and you get severe cramp in one or both of your legs in one or multiple muscles. OUCH.
Example B: office worker sits at desk 10 hours a day, rarely gets up to walk around (other than to fetch a coffee), has 5 coffees, no water, skips breakfast, eats takeaways for lunch (because they are fast, easy and convenient), goes home sits on couch while eating dinner watching TV.
BOOM cramp every night in bed keeping them awake.
5. Medical conditions
HOW DO YOU EASE IT?
How you ease your cramp is often a reflection on what is causing your cramp. A health professional (chiropractor even) may be able to guide you with figuring this out, BUT for an acute cramp these things may help.
1. Stop the activity that caused the cramp
2. Stretch affected muscle
3. Massage affected muscle
4. Drink water
5. Drinking some Electrolytes might be a good idea
6. Apply heat on tense muscle (some may argue to use cold)
7. Mineral supplementation may help, however it is best to get advised by a health practitioner which mineral would be best for you. For example some people with sensitive digestive tracts prefer a mineral that can be absorbed via skin, eg. magnesium oil
MORAL OF THE STORY:
If you are suffering from cramp regularly your body is telling you it is lacking something and may be needing extra support.
Talking to a health professional about this is a great idea to get a structured plan to get to the bottom of it. Funnily enough we might be able to help! :)
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Over and out,
Hi. My name is Ainslee, I am a chiropractor and wellness extraordinaire. My passion is getting people well and keeping them that way.