While running, walking, riding a bicycle, standing up for a long time, doing yoga stretches incorrectly, or even sleeping, a person can get muscle cramps. Any muscle - upper arm, forearm, leg, calf, or even a toe or the baby finger - can undergo sudden spasm.
Muscle cramps and spasms have numerous causes. They may be due to insufficient blood supply to the muscle or, in some cases, to excess blood supply, as in the case of "writer's cramp." Muscle spasms can be due to lack of calcium in the diet or malabsorption of calcium, since calcium plays a significant role in relaxing the muscle. A related problem is hyperparathyroidism (underactive parathyroid), in which the person loses calcium, this may also cause the muscles to undergo spasm. Exposure to cold and poor circulation may also be responsible.
The Ayurvedic understanding is, in simplest terms, that muscle spasms are accused by vata dosha. Vata, increased by mobile, cold, or rough qualities, makes a muscle stiff and hard, and it undergoes spasm.
Whenever a muscle is under spasm.
o Grab hold of it.
o At the same time, press your index finger deeply into the "belly" of the muscle (the bulging central part of the muscle) for 15 to 20 seconds. A marma point (like an acupressure point) is located in the centre of the muscle; pressing on it helps the muscle relax.
o Take a few deep breaths.
A marma point is located at the midpoint of both the lips. If there is a spasm in the upper body, such as in the arms or fingers, grab hold of your upper lip, in the middle, between your thumb and index finger. If the spasm is in the legs or the lower part of the body, grab the lower lip. These energy points on the lips send messages to the brain, which in turn relays a signal to the motor system to relax the muscles. Just grabbing the lips for 30 seconds should help relieve the spasm. Press fairly strongly, but not hard to be painful.
Another approach is to apply a little oil to the muscle belly and gently massage. Mahanarayan oil is best if you have it; otherwise, some sesame oil or other oil will do. Gentle massage of the painful cramped muscle will relax the muscle fibers, improve the circulation, and pacify the vata. That will help relieve the spasm.
After rubbing in the mahanarayan oil, apply a little heat. For best results, use a hot water bottle (not an electric heating pad). Winter, with its dry, cold weather, is vata season. During winter season, when vata individuals get exposed to the cold, their muscles may cramp. Rubbing the muscle with mahanarayan oil (or sesame oil) and then applying heat will be soothing and healing.
For a cramp in your foot, soak the foot in a bucket of warm water that contains salt (1 or 2 tablespoon).
A hot ginger powder-baking soda bath (2/3 cup baking soda and ¼ cup ginger per tubful of water) is also effective for muscle relaxation.
Muscle cramps and cramps in the stomach may be related. Muscle pain can happen anywhere in the body, in the skeletal muscles as well as in the smooth muscles of the abdomen. As with spasm in the arm or leg, abdominal cramps may have many causes, such as eating too big a meal, or lifting too heavy a weight, which strains the abdominal muscles. Gases in the stomach, constipation, or acid indigestion can also create cramps in the stomach or abdomen.
Lie in supine position. Bring both legs and press them on the chest gently bring the nose touching the knees, inhale and exhale for a few breaths. Relax.
Sit with knees bent. Gently bend one of the knees on the floor. Hold the position and breathe in out for a few times. Change position and repeat with other knee.
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