When your muscles cramp your style

Muscle cramps are irritating and they can happen to anyone. There are easy fixes to prevent their occurrence.

Everybody has had a cramping muscle at least once in their lives. For some, it is an everyday event, especially among sportspersons. Tennis legend Steffi Graf struggled with a painful calf her entire career, and there were matches during which she had to stop playing due to acute cramps. Many swimmers and athletes also experience a variety of muscle pains and aches.

However, muscle pains, spasms and cramps are not the domain of sportspersons only – they can strike anybody! The thing is, our muscles have an optimum threshold of use. Overuse stretches them to injury point. But at the same time, underuse leads to atrophy and related pains. So the trick is to balance the activity levels such that the muscles are pushed to perform only slightly past their tolerance level. After this point, a period of rest helps the muscle restore normal function and use.

Consider these simple tips on how to relieve muscle cramps:

Stay hydrated. Often, muscle distress and cramping is a result of low hydration. The muscles need adequate amounts of water to recover and function properly. Those who drink less than half a litre of water every day are more prone to cramps and spasms. Keep a one-litre bottle of water handy and aim to finish it during the course of a day. As you develop the habit of sipping on water all day, you can increase your intake.

Stay active. Like we mentioned earlier, lack of activity can trigger muscle cramps and pains. Go walking or jogging to get the muscles up and running. You can even try such cardio activities as Zumba or swimming to get your pulse rate going. Active muscles recover faster from fatigue and injury, and they are also amenable to toning.

Stay rested. However, prolonged overwork can also cause cramping and aches. After a period of intense activity, it is a good idea to kick back with a massage or a hot water soak. Even a good night’s sleep can restore most of the muscle function, though there might stiffness the next morning.

When to see a doctor for muscle pain treatment

Normally, muscle pain is indicative of stress and overuse. However, some types of muscle pains indicate a deeper problem. Certain muscle cramps and spasms are triggered by the presence of clots in the blood vessels leading to those muscles. As long as the clot is present, it can trigger the spasm or cramp at any time. In other cases, there may be a genetic predisposition to cramping. It may be an inherited disorder.

If the pain is severe and constant, it is time to seek professional muscle pain treatment. Torn or bruised muscles can hurt constantly, and must be treated by a trained doctor. Treatment is also essential if the muscles get inflamed or sore very easily, or if there is a disposition to become tight with even moderate activity. Meanwhile, the doctor can identify if the muscle pain cause is a topical or neurological one.