What are cramps? Learn about its causes and treatment: Cramps are involuntary painful contraction of a muscle that takes a while to relax. However, it will be uncomfortable at the time, feeling like an ‘intense, gripping’ sensation, once it eases there should not be much pain except for a dull ache. Its causes include dehydration, strenuous exercise or lack of muscle use. Its treatment includes stretching and massaging the muscle may help it relax. Applying cold or heat to the area may also help. Do you know that you can treat the muscle cramps with self-care measures? Yes, with the help of your doctor, you can learn stretching exercises. Must ensure that you stay well-hydrated as it can also help to reduce your chances of getting muscle cramps. Your doctor may prescribe a medicine to relax your muscles for recurrent cramps that disturb your sleep.
Causes of Muscle cramps
Dietician Anuj Choudhary (Animal Booster Nutrition Company) shares circumstances and conditions that may cause muscle cramps.
- Medication: Taking specific drugs, including statins (medicines that treat high cholesterol) and pseudoephedrine (a drug used to treat nasal congestion) can cause involuntary muscle cramping
- Pregnancy: Do you know that pregnant women often experience leg cramps? It is due to the circulation changes, pressure on the nerves and low electrolyte levels caused by the growing baby.
- Nerve disorders: Do you know that issues such as spinal cord injury can cause nerve compression? And in rare cases that can also lead to muscle cramps.
- Low electrolyte levels: Low levels of substances such as potassium or calcium in the blood can cause muscle cramps.
- Ageing: Losing muscle mass can put more strain on your muscles over time leading to muscle cramps as you age.
- Physical strain: Overusing your muscles during strenuous activities or exercise can lead to cramps.
- Tight muscles: Not enough stretching and inactivity can cause muscles to contract involuntarily.
- Hypothyroidism: Having a less active thyroid gland than average can lead to muscle cramps.
- Dehydration: While exercising your body loses body fluids which can cause muscles to cramp.
DIET FOR MUSCLE CRAMPS
Here are some foods and beverages by Dr Prerna Agarwal, Technical Operations, Apollo Diagnostics, Hyderabad, that help with muscle cramps.
- Milk: We are all aware that milk is a natural source of electrolytes like potassium, sodium and calcium. It is suitable for hydration and packed with protein. And it also helps repair muscle tissue after workouts.
- Drink Water for Max Hydration: Drinking water is an effective way to stay hydrated. It is suggested that adult men and women drink at least 125 and 91 ounces of water per day, sequentially.
- Legumes: Legumes like lentils and beans are packed with magnesium and high fibre. Researches show that high-fibre foods always help you ease with menstrual cramps.
- Green Leafy Vegetables: They’re rich in calcium and magnesium. So adding them to your plate may help prevent muscle cramps.
- Orange Juice: It has plenty of water for hydration. It’s also a rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium.
What foods can make muscle pain worse? Dietician Anuj Choudhary shares foods that worsen muscle pain
- Caffeine and Alcohol: Caffeinated drinks and alcohol decrease nutrients, including magnesium and vitamins B and C, triggers for inflammatory processes in the body.
- Salt: Excess salt can disturb the balance of other vital electrolytes and minerals in the body, which help in the proper functioning of our muscles and joints.
- Vegetables like potatoes and tomatoes. Brinjal contains solanine which can cause a chemical reaction in the body, and this can contribute to pain.
- Citrus fruits such as lemons, though, healthy choice for vitamin C, in some people they can trigger a detox reaction which may aggravate muscle pain.
- Processed Foods including baked foods, cakes, crisps or fast food.
- Meat, eggs, dairy foods, especially milk.
DIET FOR LEG CRAMPS
What to eat and drink to prevent cramps on legs? Eating includes the proper amount of potassium, calcium or magnesium in our diet can prevent leg cramps.
- Melon: These fruits have it all: potassium, magnesium and calcium, a little sodium, and a lot of water. Sodium and water are essential for your body. Includes hot-sweet grilled watermelon, watermelon-tomato salad.
- Sweet Potatoes: It gives calcium, magnesium and potassium. Do you know sweet potatoes have about six times as much calcium as bananas?
- Bananas: This edible fruit is a good source of magnesium, calcium and potassium a quick choice for cramp relief.
- Seeds and nuts: Includes seeds, whole grains, bananas and dark leafy greens.
- Beans: Use beans in chilli, soups, dips and more.
- Drinking has plenty of fluids. Sports drinks such as Gatorade and Pickle Juice will often help leg cramps.
What can trigger leg cramps? Some foods that trigger leg cramps are:
- Processed Foods includes baked foods, cakes, crisps or fast food
- Dairy Foods, especially milk
- Meat, eggs and salt
- Caffeine (coffee and chocolate) and alcohol
All these foods lead to a decrease in the absorption of these significant nutrients that lead to cramps. Do you know that too little calcium, magnesium and potassium in your diet can contribute to leg cramps? Medications prescribed for high blood pressure can also deplete these minerals.
DIET FOR JOINT CRAMPS
The foods that help with joint cramps are:
- Yoghurt: Do you know that yoghurt is linked with decreased insulin resistance, inflammation, and may also prevent type 2 diabetes. Nutrition scientists believe that yoghurt's power comes from the probiotics; it also contains various anti-inflammatory properties.
- Millets: Have you been experiencing stiffness and joint pain lately? Then its time to add millets in your diet. Millets are gluten-free and highly nutritious. Millets, like buckwheat, contains anti-inflammatory properties. So add more quercetin (millet) to your daily diet.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Includes fish, nuts, dairy and eggs.
- Herbs and Spices: Include turmeric, ginger, coriander, onions, dill and lemon.
- Fruits and Berries: Includes apples, apricots, cranberries.
How muscle, leg and joint cramps pain are different from each other?
- Leg Cramps: It is a sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more muscles often in the legs.
- Joint Cramps: It occurs when two or more bones meet to form a joint, ranging from mild to disabling and physical discomfort.
- Muscle Cramps: It occurs in various muscles due to sudden and involuntary contractions
How are cramps different from muscle pain? A muscle strain presents typically as acute pain, and some describe it as a stabbing like. If you run or ‘push through’ through this pain, you’ll potentially pull more muscle fibres apart, which will result in a more significant injury with more pain and a longer recovery time. This is why it’s so important to know the difference in sensation between your muscles cramping and a strain.
Preventive tips to help avoid all types of cramps
These steps may help prevent cramps:
- Avoid Dehydration: Intake of plenty of liquids every day. Fluids keep your muscles cells hydrated that results in smooth contraction and relaxation with less irritation. Replenishing fluids at regular intervals while performing the activities and continue drinking water or other fluids after you're finished.
- Stretch your Muscles: Using muscle for an extended period, don’t forget to stretch before and after, especially before bedtime to avoid leg cramps. To prevent cramps during sleep, light exercise such as riding a stationary bicycle for a few minutes is recommended.
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