Friday, November 23, 2007

MUSCLE CRAMPS

Cramps do seem to have a special affinity for the calves, but other parts of your body are just as vulnerable. Your neck, back, thighs, and feet can also fall victim to these abnormal, agonizing muscle contractions. A whole host of factors have been linked to the onset of cramps. One common culprit is muscle fatigue. Cramps may also crop up when a muscle is overstretched or strained or takes a direct blow. Other potential triggers include mineral depletion, impaired circulation, and sudden changes in temperature. Although for the most part, it is not a serious health problem. But that does not mean that you should leave it alone, even if the pain would allow you to. Here are some tips that you can consider to adopt to relieve your pain effectively.

1. Increase Vitamin C Intake

Increasing yoru intake of vitamin -C can help keep your muscles from cramping. It is recommended to consume timed-release vitamin C capsules twice a day, 1,000 milligrams in the morning, and 1,000 milligrams at night. Bear in mind that some people may experience diarrhea when taking more than 1,200 milligrams of vitamin C a day.

2. Toe The Line On Pain

If your calf muscles are susceptible to recurring cramps, they are probably weak. You can build them up with simple strengthening exercises. It is recommended to perform toe raises. Simply rise up on your toes, hold for 5 seconds, then return your heels to the floor. Repeat 15 to 20 times, two to three times a day. To enhance the benefits of exercise, you may want to try holding dumbbells at your shoulders.

3. Try Sports Drinks

If you are low in sodium or potassium, you might be prone to cramping. The reason is that both minerals are electrolytes, which regulate muscle contractions. Sports drinks such as Gatorade can help replenish your supply of sodium and potassium. It is recommended diluting drink with a little water, so that your body absorbs it better.

4. Turn Up The Heat

For recurring cramps, it is recommended regular applications of moist heat to the affected muscle. Warm the muscle for 10 to 15 minutes, five or six times a day. Continue the applications every day until there is no trace of cramping.

5. Rub The Right Way

Massage the calf, arch, and toes with baby oil for 5 minutes, using a back-and-forth motion, across the length of the muscle. Rolling over the affected muscle from side to side with the palms of your hands can also help.

6. Fill Up With Fluids

Keeping yourself adequately hydrated can help prevent cramps. Be sure to top off your tank before and during any physical activity, especially if you are working up a sweat in hot weather. You should drink 8 to 12 ounces of fluid before you start exercising. Follow up with 4 to 8 ounces of fluid every 30 to 45 minutes while you are working out.

7. Counter The Contraction

You can gently relax a cramped muscle by guiding it through its normal range of motion. For a cramp in your calf, it is recommended to hold your calf with one hand while pulling your foot toward you with the other hand. The same instructions apply for a cramp in your foot, just place your hand in the arch of your foot instead of on your calf. In both cases hold the stretch until you feel the cramp release.
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