A muscle cramp or muscle spasm is said to occur when a specific muscle is overused, usually while exercising. Muscle cramps are also said to occur when a specific part of the body remains inactive and frozen at the same position for a long period.
In certain cases, a muscle spasm can be triggered by conditions like fatigue, stress or malnourishment. And in some cases, a defective chemical signal sent out by the nervous system can cause the muscles to contract and cause cramps.
Effective Home Remedies For Muscular Cramps
Whatever be the reason for the same, muscular cramps can be very uncomfortable and can in certain cases, can be extremely painful to handle. However, there are certain home remedies that can help alleviate the symptoms of muscle cramps and treat the condition quickly and effectively. Accordingly, here are some of the more common home remedies often recommended for muscle cramps in individuals.
Heating Pads Or Heat Compresses
Applying a hot compress or placing a heating pad over the contracted muscle can help it relax, thereby alleviating the cramp. The warmth induced by the hot compress would also increase blood flow to the area and help reduce the pain and swelling caused by the cramp.
The best option would be to place the heating pad/compress on the affected muscle for about 15-20 minutes. Give a gap of an hour and then apply the compress again for another 20 minutes. Repeat the same until the pain dissipates and the cramps reduce.
Note: Too much exposure to the heat from a hot compress can dilate the blood vessels in the area. This can lead to a drastic increase in the blood flow to the affected site, thereby increasing the swelling caused by the cramp. So make sure you give a 60 minute interval between subsequent applications.
Hot Water Showers
Showering in hot water can actually help treat sore muscles and reduce muscle cramps to a great extent. Target the hot stream of water gushing out of the shower directly on the sore muscles for quicker results. You can also opt to soak in a bathtub filled with hot water for some time to get relief from muscle cramps. Try adding some Epsom salt to the bathwater beforehand as the magnesium content in the salt would aid in muscle relaxation.
If heat compresses do not seem to have any effect on the muscle cramps, try opting for cold compresses instead. Taking bath in cold water can help treat sore muscles and reduce cramps effectively. Alternatively, you can place ice packs on the contracted muscles to constrict the blood vessels in the region and inhibit the flow of blood to the affected area, thereby reducing the swelling caused by the cramp.
And if nothing else seems to work out, try plunging into an icy cold pond or lake to get instant relief from muscle cramps.
Massaging the affected area can relax sore, stiff muscles and alleviate muscle cramps to a great extent. Using essential oils for these massages would have additional benefits on the body. Accordingly, you can use a blend of vegetable oil (4 parts) and wintergreen oil (1 part) as an effective ingredient for the same.
Wintergreen has added benefits for muscle cramps as it contains a substance called methyl salicylate, which can effectively reduce the pain and discomfort caused by the cramps in addition to increasing the blood flow to the affected area, thereby promoting quick healing.
Swimming can be considered as a very effective way to get rid of muscle cramps quickly and effortlessly. While the cold water of the pool would relax sore muscles, the body movements would enable the stiff muscles to move freely in the water, thereby relieving them of their contracted state.
A muscular cramp or spasm can be easily tackled by standing up immediately as soon as you feel a cramp setting in, and do some stretching. Stretching can prevent the muscles from contracting, and can help reduce the soreness and stiffness, thereby reducing the cramps to a great extent.
Do not opt for strenuous stretches at the start though. And don’t start with the stretches right away. Warm up a bit before starting the exercise to avoid muscle locks.
Application of Pressure
Sometimes, all that a muscle cramp needs is some pressure to disappear. And you can do this by following a simple and easy procedure. Accordingly, you need to located the epicenter of the cramp (the area where it is most concentrated) and use your thumb or fist to apply pressure on this spot. Apply pressure on the same spot continuously for about 10 seconds. Repeat the same after a few seconds. After a few repetitions, you would feel the pain and discomfort starting to recede.
Replenishing Mineral/Electrolyte Levels
Low levels of certain minerals in the body can cause severe muscle cramps. These minerals (or electrolytes) include sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium. While you may get plenty of sodium from the regular foods that you eat, you can increase the intake of foods rich in calcium (dairy foods), magnesium (beans, nuts, cereals and whole wheat grains etc.) and potassium (oranges, bananas and cantaloupe etc.) to replenish the reduced mineral levels and thwart muscle cramps in the process.
Kitchen Counter Remedies for Muscle Cramps
Here are some excellent kitchen counter remedies to thwart muscle cramps and their painful side effects.
Drinking at least 5 cups of chamomile tea every day for a period of 3 weeks can effectively help treat muscle cramps and prevent recurrences, owing to the presence of an amino acid called glycine in the tea that contains potent muscle relaxant properties.
Honey is considered to be an effective muscle relaxant and can take care of muscle cramps at night (called nocturnal muscle cramps).
All you need to do is swallow two teaspoons of raw honey with your regular meals (preferably afterwards) to get effective relief from the condition.
Black Mustard Seeds
Mustard is said to contain acetic acid which aids in the production of a stimulant called acetylcholine which acts as a muscle relaxant. Considered to be an effective home remedy to thwart muscle cramps, black mustard seeds can be soaked in a tub of hot water up to the saturation point. Immersing the affected area in this water for 20-30 minutes can effectively reduce the intensity of the cramps.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a rich source of potassium, and can aid in treating muscle cramps and sores effectively. Consume a mixture of apple cider vinegar (2 teaspoons), honey (1 teaspoon) and water (1 glass) every day for best results.
Soaking the affected area in a ginger based solution can effectively reduce muscle cramps instantly. All you need to do is add powdered ginger (1/4 cup), baking soda (3 cups) and Epsom salt (3 tablespoons) to a bucket of lukewarm water. Soak the affected area in this solution for about 20 minutes to relax the muscles.