Cramp – argh!
If you are someone who is afflicted by the sudden, involuntary rudeness of cramp, you’ll know it can come at the most inopportune moments, and for some the sharp muscular contractions can awaken them in the middle of the night.
When cramp occurs, the muscle goes into spasm squeezing the blood out, like ringing out a wet sponge, all the nutrients in the blood can’t then supply the muscle fibres. In very severe cases of cramp, the force of the muscle contraction can tear the muscle fibres, causing a strain injury that will then need treatment.
The reasons why these unwanted spasms happen are not always clear but here I’ve listed a few possibilities, how you can help prevent them and how best to treat them should they arise…
Dehydration; when the body is dehydrated blood volume decreases affecting muscle function. To avoid this always stay well hydrated, sipping water regularly, especially in hot conditions or when working out.
Low potassium or sodium levels (salt); most of us will get sufficient sodium levels from our diets but when we sweat we loose those salts, drinks containing electrolytes will replenish the salts quickly when sweating and help stave off episodes of cramping. Glucose levels; when blood sugar drops our energy decreases and this can affect the muscles, simple carbohydrates will give quick energy replenishment but for longer lasting sustained energy load up on complex carbs a few hours before a workout.
Tight muscles; This is definitely the culprit for my own bouts of cramp and regular stretching routines help to prevent this, in the moment though, it is hard to stretch out a muscle that is spasming, so light massaging & gentle movement of the area can assist in getting the muscle to relax.
If you have sustained a muscle tear from severe cramping, RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation) is needed. However wait 48hrs before applying deep tissue massage as this can increase bleeding but will be highly beneficial for the healing process.
This article has been published in the March edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk