Muscle Cramps: Unmasking the Fitness Dilemma

By: Zuske Sagara


People nowadays are becoming more conscious about their health, recognizing the importance of exercise and physical activities in their lives. Many have been integrating exercises like jogging, skipping ropes, brisk walking, and other similar exercises in their daily routines. However, there are instances that people who exercise, especially those who run or jog, can be vulnerable to muscle cramps. Muscle cramps are the involuntary and forcible contraction of the muscles. These cramps can be related to a part of a muscle, the entire muscle, or a group of muscles. It may occur many times before it is relieved. Sometimes there can be simultaneous cramps that move body parts in opposite directions. Statistics show that about 95% of individuals experience muscle cramps at some point of their lives.

Muscle cramps can be caused by different factors which may include poor flexibility, muscle fatigue, electrolyte and mineral depletion, excessive physical exertion, and dehydration. Electrolytes are minerals in the blood and other fluids that carry an energy charge. In addition to these causes, muscle cramps can be linked to some factors like improper breathing and unhealthy diets.

Muscle cramps may disappear on their own, but there are some things that can be done to lessen their severity and longevity. Below are some of the things that can be done to treat muscle cramps.

Stop the activity that triggered the muscle cramp
Gently stretch the affected muscle
Keep the affected muscle moving with light activity (standing and walking around)
Massage the affected area to aid blood flow

Making adjustments in one's training routine may help prevent the occurrence of muscle cramp. Improving one's cardiovascular fitness may also boost the flow of blood to the muscles. A strong heart may guarantee that there are sufficient amounts of oxygen and nutrients in the muscles for them to function properly. Stretching may also help the muscles become more loose and flexible that may stop the muscles from tightening and cramping. Stretching coupled with a good warm-up session may lead to increased range of movements and help prevent injuries and muscle cramps by prompting muscle recovery.

In terms of breathing and healthy diets, people who workout should make sure that plenty of water is taken before and while working out to replace lost electrolytes. Deep breaths should be done while working out to allow consumption of plenty of oxygen. Studies show that when oxygen intake is more efficient the following may take place: slower heart rate, decreased blood pressure, eased anxiety, and relaxed muscles. Workouts should not be overdone to prevent the occurrence of muscle cramps. Any cramping usually subside after a few minutes of rest but if individuals are having trouble with their cramps they should seek the advise of doctors of other health specialists.

Rather than seek for the treatments or remedies for muscle cramps engaging in proper pre-workout and workout routines may eliminate or lessen the occurrence of these health ailment. The use of over-the-counter medication to treat muscle cramps is not prohibited. But individuals who wish to try them should consult doctors before taking them and not self-medicate. Proper workouts and healthy diets prioritized rather than taking muscle relaxants and other medications to treat muscle cramps.

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