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Why you have muscle cramps
There’s nothing quite like the instant pain you get from a cramp that grips your body - usually at the most inappropriate of times (think: while you’re sleeping or mid-downward dog). But why, WHY do we get cramps?
From period pain, to foot cramps, here’s what causes muscle spasms and the tricks to stop them from totally cramping your style.
As if dealing with your period isn’t painful enough, many of us also have to endure the agonising pain of menstrual cramps. "Period pain is caused by the release of prostaglandins which cause inflammation," says Carefree website GP, Dr Farah Kroman. "An option to ease this pain is to take an anti-inflammatory regularly and start it early, before the pain gets too bad."
- Take it easy. Make yourself a hot water bottle, take an anti-inflammatory and plant yourself on the couch with a cup of muscle-relaxing chamomile tea.
- Treat yourself to a cupping massage. Liangzi Health Oasis offers this ancient Chinese therapy which helps relieve a range of ailments including pain and tension deep within the muscles.
- Stretch it out with a low-impact workout or go for a walk.
CRAMPS WHILE EXERCISING
If you’re prone to stitches in your side or lower abdomen while running, it could be because you’re not breathing deeply enough. Low levels of electrolytes including potassium and calcium can also cause your muscles to seize up.
- Avoid eating right before exercising. Eat at least two hours before working out.
- Try taking long, deep breaths while exercising.
- Slow down, gently press on the cramp and take some deep breaths to ease it.
- Boost your electrolytes by eating a banana two hours before exercising.
CRAMPS DURING SLEEP
Have you ever been rudely awoken during the night to the feeling of your calf muscle in the midst of spasm? Your muscles might be dehydrated, causing them to cramp when you put them in an awkward position while you sleep.
- Drink up. Up your intake of water, or sip on a sports drink to increase your electrolyte levels as well.
- Ease tension in over-worked muscles by giving them a gentle massage with The Body Shop Muscle Roller before hitting the hay.
- Stretch your muscles. While sitting or standing, gently flex your cramped muscle to stretch it out.
- Prevent cramps by massaging tired muscles with Avon’s Footworks Leg and Muscle Rub with Mint & Rosemary.
There’s nothing more annoying than a weird toe cramp taking grip on your foot, stopping you dead in your tracks. Your body may be lacking magnesium, which can keep calcium and sodium in the muscle, preventing it from relaxing.
- Take a supplement such as Blackmores Bio Magnesium (www.blackmores.com.au) to up your magnesium levels and relieve muscular spasms and cramps.
- Go for a walk around the house to gently stretch out the cramp.
- Lay on the couch and apply a heat pack of hot water bottle on your foot to relax the muscles and improve blood flow to the area.
What kind of cramps do you get? How do you go about treating your cramps?