10 Home Remedies for Cramps
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman, adult or child, we’re all at risk of getting cramps. A cramp happens when your muscles suddenly and involuntarily contract and in most cases this is temporary and doesn’t do damage. But the resulting pain can be uncomfortable and in certain circumstances downright painful. It’s not uncommon for cramps to cause significant pain and even a paralysis of the affected muscle.
Most muscular cramps happen due to dehydration, strain on the muscle affected or from something as simple as holding a certain position for too long. Even though most muscle cramps are harmless, some may be a result of an underlying condition1:
* MINERAL DEPLETION – If you have a deficiency of potassium, magnesium or calcium you can experience cramps, specifically leg cramps. It’s also important to note the medication for high blood pressure is known to deplete these minerals, as does coffee and alcohol.
* BLOOD SUPPLY – If you have an inadequate blood supply, usually caused by narrowing of the arteries that deliver the blood to your extremities, this can produce painful cramps in your feet in legs. Especially during exercise.
* NERVE COMPRESSION – Nerve compression in your spinal cord (lumbar stenosis) may also produce cramp like pains in the legs. With this condition, the pain usually gets worse the more you walk. Menstrual cramps in women happen when the uterus contracts to expel it’s lining. Hormones called prostaglandins are released by the body during mensuration triggering contractions in the uterine muscle.
The higher level of prostaglandins, the more severe the cramps in most cases. If you’re experiencing any sort of cramps, there are things you can do without using pharmaceuticals to alleviate them. Here are 10 home remedies for cramps:
#1 – Heat the Area Using a heating pad, hot water bottle or even a hot washcloth and placing it on the muscle which is cramping will help relax the muscle, increase the blood flow and loosen up the cramp. It’s a good idea to keep the heat on the area for around 20 minutes. If you cramp still persists, make sure to wait another 20 minutes before reapplying the heat to your cramp.
#2 – Take a Long, Warm Shower or Bath This will not only heat up the muscle which is cramping but your entire body, causing it to relax and loosen up. If you’re having a bath, make sure to try epsom salt. The magnesium in the salt helps relax cramping muscles.
#3 – Massage the Center of the Cramp Locate the center of the muscle cramp and press your thumb into that area. Hold the pressure for 10 seconds and then repeat the process. You should feel some pain, but if the pain becomes unbearable then it means you’re pressing too hard. After repeating this process several times, the cramp should start to go away.
#4 – Electrolytes Since cramps often happen due to a lack of proper hydration, taking electrolytes can help. Not only do electrolytes help keep you properly hydrated, but they also help replenish your levels of potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium. A lack of which all help contribute to muscle cramps. It’s a good idea to eat foods rich in these minerals, here are some good diet choices that will help keep the level of these minerals where they should be in your body.
* MAGNESIUM – Avocados, beans, nuts, seeds, spinach and whole grain breads
* POTASSIUM – Most fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, oranges and cantaloupe
* CALCIUM – A great source of calcium can be found in most dairy foods
#5 – Stay Hydrated This one is a no-brainer, drinking enough water throughout the day will go a long way in helping you stay hydrated. It’s best to start with drinking at least half a litre of water right after waking up and drinking an additional 8-10 glasses of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated not only helps prevent cramps but is also very healthy and prevents a whole myriad of other ailments and medical conditions.
#6 – Vitamin E Vitamin E has been shown to have a very strong effect on the reduction of cramps in the body. According to a scientific study completed back in 20102, taking about 250 mg per day over the period of 12 weeks led to a significant reduction of cramps, 68.3%.
#7 – Exercise In most cases, exercise is a great prophylactic for cramps. When you do aerobic exercise you work your entire cardiovascular system which in turn helps the overall health of your heart, arteries and just about everything else responsible for causing cramps.
When you exercise regularly you’re also more likely to have a better and more complete diet, as it helps with your athletic performance. This means that you’ll also be eating more healthy foods rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium. It’s recommended to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 days per week, if you want to keep cramps at bay. If your cramps get worse with exercise there is a chance that you have nerve compression or inadequate blood flow and should see a doctor.
#8 – Avoid these Foods and Drinks There are some foods and beverages which will no doubt increase the risk of getting cramps, and in many cases the severity of them. If you want to help yourself avoid cramps, it’s a good idea to avoid these3:
* Foods high in fat
* Coffee & caffeine
* Fried foods
* Fast foods and processed foods
* Foods high in sodium
* Foods high in refined sugars
#9 – Essential Oils There are some essential oils that promote a boost in circulation, which helps alleviate cramps. It’s also okay to mix these oils together and find a concoction that works best for you. The best oils for this are:
#10 – Supplements Having a deficiency in vitamins and minerals could be a reason for your cramps. If you really want to get scientific, it’s a good idea to get your blood tested for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Once you get the results you can supplement exactly what your body needs. But it’s also okay to experiment based on educated guessing. For example, if you drink a lot of coffee then you have a higher chance of being magnesium deficient, and you need to take magnesium supplements. The best supplements for cramp relief are5:
* Vitamin B6, B1 and D.
* Vitamin B12
* Fish oil
It’s always a good idea to try to relieve your ailments in natural and healthy ways, but it’s also important to remember if your health condition isn’t going away or is getting worse, to go see a doctor. Pharmaceuticals are best avoided if possible as they are only good at treating symptoms and not the cause of your problem.
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