People nowadays are more conscious about their health. They recognize the importance of exercise and physical activities in their lives and have included exercise like jogging, skipping ropes, brisk walking, and other forms of workout in their daily routines. However, a health condition called muscle cramps may hamper one’s fitness goals.
Muscle cramps are sudden and painful contractions of one or more muscles and may occur many times before it is relieved. Sometimes there can be simultaneous cramps that move body parts in opposite directions. Because of the pain and discomfort it brings, there are various medications for pain relief that are out in the market. However, before taking these medications it is important to understand muscle cramps to know possible remedies rather than making drugs the first option.
Muscle cramps occur when a muscle that is already in an abridged position is stimulated to contract. Sometimes even a slight movement may trigger muscle cramps and may take place while exercising, especially when one trains to a point of overexertion. This happens because over-training may lead to electrolyte depletion, electrolytes are minerals in the blood that carry energy charge. Low electrolyte levels may disrupt cell function and cause muscle cramps. This condition may also be experienced while sleeping as the natural sleeping position is relatively shortened and can be prone to cramps.
In some cases, cramps can also be a symptom of another health condition which may include the following:
Side effects of some medicines that may include diuretics like nifedipine, cimetidine, salbutamol, and many more.
Conditions that may create imbalance in salts in the bloodstream (high or low sodium or potassium levels)
Renal kidney dialysis
Untreated under-active thyroid gland
Cirrhosis of the liver
Excessive alcohol consumption
Muscle cramps may disappear on their own, but there are some things that can be done to lessen their severity and longevity. Below are some of the things that can be done to treat muscle cramps.
Stop activity that triggered the muscle cramp
Gently stretch the affected muscle
Keep the affected muscle moving with light activity (standing and walking around)
Massage the affected area to aid blood flow
If these methods fail to alleviate the pain, individuals who suffer from cramps may take medications for pain relief. Painkillers like paracetamol may help alleviate muscle pain and discomfort that sometimes persist after up to 24 hours after muscle cramp has disappeared. Other medications that have been used to treat muscle cramps include vitamin B, vitamin E, verapamil, diphenhydramine, nonsteroidal, and anti-inflammatory drugs.
To prevent the occurrence of cramps, health specialists advice individuals who workout to drink plenty of water or sports drinks to replace lost electrolytes during training. In addition to hydration, individuals who engage in exercise and other physical activities should give importance to pre-workout activities like warming-up and stretching. These activities may increase flexibility and improve blood flow which may prevent the occurrence of muscle cramps.
Rather than seek medication for pain relief brought by muscle cramps, engaging in proper workout routines may eliminate or lessen the occurrence of this condition. The use of over-the-counter medication to treat muscle cramps is not prohibited. But individuals who wish to try them should consult doctors before taking them to understand side-effects and drug interactions that may develop while under medication. Proper workouts and healthy diets should be prioritized rather than taking muscle relaxants and other medications to treat muscle cramps.