It has happened to everyone to make movements and the muscle contracts with sharp pain and a lot of rigidity, that is to say: a cramp. Cramps are involuntary muscle contractions, usually painful. In this post, we tell you why they occur and how to avoid muscle cramps. Read on!
Muscle spasms or cramps can occur for various reasons, such as lack of oxygen in the muscles, sudden and rough movements, among others. Cramps are common during menstruation, when the body is stretched upon awakening or when an extremely demanding and intense physical activity takes place.
Muscle cramps become very annoying for anyone, but especially for athletes. Because in addition to being painful, they interrupt the exercise and can inflame the affected area. For this reason, it is important to know how to avoid muscle cramps.
Why do muscle cramps appear?
Muscle cramps are easy to identify. Basically, a muscle spasm is the prolonged contraction of the muscle. In particular, a cramp is such when the contraction cannot be controlled voluntarily.
Usually, the reasons why muscle cramps appear are as follows:
- Poor blood circulation in the area.
- Not doing a warm-up or stretching before sports.
- Do physical activity at low temperatures.
- Muscle exhaustion.
- Deficiency of magnesium or potassium.
- Make a sharp movement that forces the muscle to take an unnatural position.
How to avoid muscle cramps
Cramps cause intense pain, so having one is extremely inconvenient. For this reason, it is advisable to do everything possible to avoid them. Preventing muscle cramps is very simple: it is about taking care of some small details that we often forget. Keep these aspects in mind:
- Always keep yourself hydrated: it doesn’t matter if you go to exercise or not. Keeping yourself hydrated at all times of the day is essential. Otherwise, the risk of cramping increases with any movement.
- Heating and stretching: before and after training it is essential to carry out the appropriate warm-up and stretching exercises. If you tend to suffer from cramps while you sleep, take a short walk before going to bed. It is important to note that when the muscles tend, you need to be relaxed and you must breathe gradually.
- Do not lack potassium or magnesium: the lack of these two elements makes you more prone to cramps. So eat lots of bananas and peanuts!
- Avoid the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles: lactic acid is generated by very intense exercises. The accumulation of too much lactic acid in the muscles is extremely harmful; in fact, it promotes the appearance of cramps. To reduce lactic acid it is necessary to do stretches, train regularly and keep the muscles oxygenated.
Should we go to the doctor?
Do I need to see a doctor if I have a cramp? No, cramps are usually transient and do not damage the structure or function of the muscle. However, there are some symptoms that may require a professional’s review. We advise you to pay attention to the following cases and see a doctor if:
- Muscle spasms appear very frequently and in the same muscle groups.
- They are associated with redness or skin changes and inflammation of the area.
- When the pain is too intense and unbearable.
- If they do not disappear due to preventive care.
- When there are no apparent reasons for having cramps.
It is essential not to proceed with self-medication for cramps: in general, it is always better to avoid taking drugs without a medical diagnosis. In addition to using the normal preventive methods, it is possible to ingest isotonic drinks to better hydrate the muscles. But never take antibiotics or remedies without first being seen by a doctor.
Muscle cramps are not contractures
It is important not to confuse a cramp with a contracture. Although the symptoms are very similar, in this case, pain and muscle contraction, contractures can last for days or months. Cramps, on the other hand, are usually short. Furthermore, contractures are much more serious than cramps and unfortunately do not disappear with massages or stretching.
Contractures can occur due to nervous tension, excessive exercise or incorrect posture. An example of contracture is a stiff neck. So pay attention to the symptoms and go to a professional as soon as possible, while in the meantime you can put ice on the affected area.
Cramps are not dangerous, however, it is better to take care of your body. Furthermore, it is always good to avoid unnecessary and annoying pain that can cause a cramp. The advice is: if you start to suspect any other symptom that accompanies muscle spasms, do not hesitate to go to the doctor.