Home Remedies for Muscle Cramps

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home remedies and solutions for muscle cramps

You could be bending down to lift a heavy package or overwork your legs during a workout – a muscle cramp can strike at any moment. At some point in life, nearly everyone will experience some sort of muscle cramp, which is common for adults and increase in frequency with age. To ease the lingering discomfort and other symptoms, consider using home remedies for muscle cramps.

What is a Muscle Cramp?

When a muscle involuntarily and forcibly contracts and refuses to relax, you are experiencing a muscle cramp. Most often attacking the legs and arms, a cramp makes it painful for people to move their limbs. Cramping can attack any skeletal muscle. For example, when a cramp affects the calf, it is called a ‘charley horse’ – muscles afflicted by the cramp visibly show a hardening underneath the skin.

muscle crampingCauses and Symptoms

Skeletal muscle cramps are separated into four major categories, according to affected muscle groups and what causes the cramps: “true cramps, tetany, contractures, and dystonic cramps [1].

• “True” Cramps – Persistent muscle spasms, injury, too much activity, and dehydration can lead to this kind of muscle cramping. When body fluid shifts, such as an accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity from cirrhosis of the liver, is also a cause of muscle cramps. Low levels of potassium can occasionally cause muscle cramps.

• Tetany – Activated nerve cells in the body can affect muscles, which can lead to spasms or cramps. Low levels of calcium and magnesium can also cause this type of cramp.

• Contractures – A drastic reduction of energy chemicals within cells can lead to muscle fibers that are unable to relax. This type of cramp is uncommon, but is usually brought on by inherited defects.

• Dystonic Cramps – Affecting a small group of muscles, such as the eyelids, neck, and jaws, this type of cramp occurs through repetitive motion. An example of this is seen in ‘writer’s cramp,’ which attacks the hands.

Lasting anywhere from a couple of seconds to more than 15 minutes, muscle cramps cause sudden and sharp pain in the form of spasms or contractions, and often produce a hard lump of muscle tissue that you can see and feel underneath the skin. Severe muscles cramps include swelling and soreness.

Muscle Cramp Home Remedies

An attack of the muscles can occur at any moment, especially if you enjoy brisk walking, running, and aerobic activity. However, if you are familiar with home remedies for muscle cramps, you can reduce the temporary discomfort, as well as prevent further incidents in the future. A couple of suggestions include:

a) Banana:

According to the American Dietetic Association, an adult should receive about 2,000 milligrams of potassium on a daily basis. Sufferers of muscle cramps can ease symptoms by eating one to two bananas every day. The fruit increases the amount of potassium in the body with each banana containing 450 milligrams.

b) Vitamin Boost:

There are a handful of vitamin deficiencies that can directly or indirectly cause muscle cramps. Make sure you are getting enough thiamine (B1), pantothenic acid (B5), and pyridoxine (B6) in your diet.

c) Calcium:

A lack of calcium in your diet could lead to cramping at night. Counteract the threat by filling up on calcium-rich foods like broccoli, spinach, and dairy products such as yogurt.

d) Massage:

Slowly rub the knots associated with tightened muscles in their natural direction to ease the pain of a cramp. Gentle massage encourages blood circulation, which provides relief for contracted muscles.

e) Hot Shower:

When a muscle cramp strikes, soak in a warm bath or take a hot shower. Direct the stream of the shower onto the cramped area, which will help relax affected muscles.

f) Water:

People who are dehydrated suffer more muscle cramps; therefore it’s important to drink at least eight glasses of water throughout the day – and even more if you are an avid exerciser.

g) Chamomile Tea:

The amino acid glycine is found in chamomile tea, which is known to relax muscles. It is suggested to drink five cups of tea daily to relieve chronic muscle cramping.

h) Honey:

To treat foot and leg cramps that frequently attack at night, regularly consume two teaspoons of honey with your meals.

i) Stretching:

Stretching your muscles can help relieve cramps. For instance, stretch your calf with toes pointing upwards and towards the head to ease cramping in your calf and the back of your thighs. Hold the position for 30 seconds. A front thigh cramp usually responds when you pull your foot on the affected side towards your buttocks and hold for 30 seconds [2].

j) Alternate Cold and Heat:

For 10 minutes, rub an ice pack over a muscle cramp or until the skin turns red (a sign that blood cells are heating up the muscles). Alternate with a heating pad to relax and promote blood circulation to the muscles.

k) Mustard:

Stimulate leg muscles with the acetic acid found in consuming one spoonful of mustard.

l) Pickle Juice:

Acetic acid is also in pickle juice, which aids in the production of acetylcholine – a stimulant of leg muscles. Consume a few ounces of pickle juice to enjoy relief.

m) Apple Cider Vinegar:

The potassium found in apple cider vinegar can help treat a muscle cramp. Mix two teaspoons of vinegar with one teaspoon of honey in a glass of warm water, and drink.

n) Heating Pad:

Ease the pain or tenderness that usually follows after a cramp by applying a heating pad to an affected body part. A warm towel can also act as a suitable substitute.

o) Rooibos Tea:

The vitamins and trace minerals found in rooibos tea may help prevent muscle cramping at night.

p) Turmeric:

Heat turmeric with a small amount of water to create a thick paste, which applied on swollen muscles has provided immediate relief for some users.

q) Millets:

Millet cereals offer relief for people that suffer chronic muscle cramps.

r) Epsom Salt:

Prepare a soothing soak for muscles cramps by adding one cup of Epsom salt to a warm bath. The magnesium found in this home remedy relaxes the muscles and works to lessen inflammation.

s) Vitamin B6 Supplement:

Some foot cramps arise because an individual is lacking vitamin B6. Taking supplements for vitamins B6 and B12 can also ease the discomfort of muscle cramps caused by a menstrual cycle or menopause.

Resources

[1] http://www.medicinenet.com/muscle_cramps/article.htm
[2] http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/muscle-cramp/

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  • Lou

    Two tablespoons of salt in a tall glass of water. Only drink what is absorbed into the water, not the silt at the bottom. If the cramps don’t instantly go away, add more water to the salt left in the cup and repeat. This is an almost instant fix. When the body sweats, it loses salt. The levels must be replenished. Muscles relax and contract through whats called the sodium-potasium pump. When salt levels are low, it cannot correctly function. Whenever I get cramps, this is always the solution.

  • Carolyn

    I have severe cramps and spasms from alot of different reasons..I have Cirosis of the liver,I have to have alot of IV lasix..Cramps and spasms, some of them are in my inter thigh up to the groin…very painful, also in my face and neck,feet and legs..I do the hotest water I can stand in a bath tub, and rub muscles,I take all the sumpliments I need,but still I have them after takin my meds..I have polyiesythmia and so itching so bad U want to claw blood out happens after a hot bath…What do I try..I have done, salt,vinager,pickles,and the juice,I drink lots of water,I have tried gatoraide..nothin works…Please help !!!!

  • Karl

    I too have cirrosis of the liver due to PSC and I get very severe cramps in my inner thighs and quadriceps after exercise. I am on the transplant list. I am an ecologist and have to walk mountainous wind farm sites over rough ground. I got very severe cramps two days ago starting 2 hours after I’d finished walking – they lasted on and off for 4.5 hours – absolutely excruciating! See article by Kugelmas re benefits of zinc sulphate at:
    http://www.jacn.org/cgi/content/full/19/1/13
    I take Vitamin E but it doesn’t seem to make much difference. Some people say milk thistle can heal liver cirrosis.