Muscle Cramps?

Leg cramps suck!  The uncontrollable muscle spasm that comes at the worst possible time…although there is never a great time for them.  Yes, we have all had them in either our leg, foot, toe, back, neck, etc…they hurt and are very annoying!

Causes

The 3 most common causes of leg cramps I see in clinical practice that are hard to manage:

  • An underlying condition like diabetes, sciatica, or disk herniation/bulge – this is likely the most difficult cause to alleviate
  • Being pregnant is a risk factor due to fluid shift or decreased blood flow to muscles – this cause is temporary….only about 9 months 😉
  • Certain medications for high blood pressure/cholesterol – speak to your physician if you think your medications are causing your muscle cramps.

The 3 most easily dealt with causes are:

  • Sub-clinical dehydration – we don’t drink enough pure water – increase your daily intake and you will find this helps tremendously with reducing or eliminating your muscle or leg cramps
  • Nutrient deficiency/electrolyte imbalance – sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium – out of balance or deficient in any of these sets you up for chronic recurring leg cramps and muscle spasms.
  • Muscle weakness or muscles not being ‘in-shape’ – work your muscles beyond their threshold and they will pay you back with cramping and spasms…exercising and moving more may be the best way to prevent them from returning.

What to do immediately if you get a leg cramp?

First, if you get any “regular” cramps anywhere in your body – get checked by your health care provider.  Then, try to increase your water and electrolyte intake daily…coffee/tea/juice doesn’t count as water!  Also, eat some nutrient dense vegetables and fruits.

Second, take advantage of reciprocal inhibition defined on Wikipedia as “the process of muscles on one side of a joint relaxing to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint…joints are controlled by two opposing sets of muscles, extensors and flexors…the opposing muscle group must be inhibited to prevent it from working against the resulting contraction of the homonymous muscle.”

To keep this simple, when you get a spasm, immediately and slowly begin to activate or contract the opposite side muscle.  This will allow your body to inhibit the contracted muscle.

Finally, when the spasm releases you can apply heat or cold to the affected area for 15 minutes to help with any lingering discomfort.

Keeping your muscles happy will keep you happy!

P.S. Below is a video explaining how to deal with a leg cramp!

Chiropractic on Eagle

4.9 (408)
407 Eagle St, Newmarket, ON L3Y 1K5
Wednesday 2:30 – 6:00 PM
Monday 7:30 – 10:45 AM
2:30 – 6:00 PM
Tuesday 7:30 – 10:45 AM
2:30 – 5:30 PM
Wednesday 2:30 – 6:00 PMThursday 7:30 – 10:45 AM
2:30 – 5:30 PM
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