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Simple Solutions: How To Prevent And Get Rid Of Cramps

Simple Solutions: How To Prevent And Get Rid Of Cramps

Cramps can be experienced regularly or at a given time. When they come they can be fleeting but extremely painful. and if it comes on a daily or monthly basis, it can even lower a person’s well-being and quality of everyday life.

Night cramps can be particularly painful and can disrupt our sleeping patterns if experienced on a regular basis. And for many women, menstrual cramps can be a huge burden on a monthly basis.

If you want to get rid of cramps then find out what exactly causes cramps and how you can effectively relieve them and prevent them from occurring.

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What Are Cramps and What Causes Them?

Most commonly, cramps can be a result of electrolyte imbalance due to the lack of fluid in your system. They most commonly come about if you’ve overexerted your muscles or suffer from general dehydration. When dehydration occurs, the electrolytes suffer and the minerals that make up the electrolytes, sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium, diminish rapidly and an imbalance occurs. Since electrolytes are essential for healthy cell function, these also help with the optimum function of our muscles.

We can also get cramps from long periods of inactivity like sitting down without moving for a long time. Certain medications can make us prone to experiencing cramps so check with your doctor if you are on long-term medication and get cramps on a regular basis.

Cramps can potentially occur in every muscle in the body but they most commonly happen in the calves, feet and thighs.

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What Are The Different Types of Cramp?

  • True Cramps – these are the most common types of cramps which we have all probably suffered from one time or another. These usually involve part or all of a single muscle or a group of muscles that generally act together and are thought to be affected by the nerves that stimulate the muscles.
  • Dysmenorrhea  – these are also known as menstrual cramps. They are a result of the uterus (a muscle itself) contracting and if this happens too strongly the oxygen supply is cut off to the muscle tissue and pain ensues.
  • Injury Cramps – if the body has experienced an injury then the muscle tries to protect it by spasming in an attempt to stabilise the injured area.
  • Rest Cramps – these happen with a long period of inactivity and can sometimes happen at night known as night cramps.
  • Dystonic Cramps – these types of cramps occur when there is repetitive movement in one area such as in the hands when we write for too long.

How To Get Rid of Cramps

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    There are various ways you can help get rid of cramps. When experiencing a cramp it can be quite debilitating and you usually have to stop what you’re doing suddenly.

    Stretching is the number one way to help relieve the pain and longevity of a true cramp. This can simply involve walking around if it occurs in the leg or foot area. For calf cramps you can gently stretch the leg by facing a wall and hold both hands out bending the unaffected leg with the affected leg stretched out behind.

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    If you do regular exercise such as running, it’s a great practice to make sure you stretch out before and after to prevent cramps caused by the vigorous exercise.

    If you suffer from night cramps then doing evening stretches in your legs before going to bed will help prevent painful night cramps from occurring.

    Massaging is another great and effective way to relieve the symptoms of cramp. Relaxing the muscle through gentle massage will help the pain cease quite quickly.

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    Applying heat in the form of a heated pad or hot water bottle will further relax the muscle and calm down the spasming. This is particularly helpful in menstrual cramping. A hot shower will also be effective making sure the cramping area is focused on.

    How To Prevent Cramps

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      • Leg exercises can help when you find yourself sitting for long periods of time. Doing ankle flexes will allow the oxygen to flow up the legs and to the muscle tissues. If possible make sure you take breaks and walk around.
      • Hydration is really important if you suffer from cramps regularly. It could be a case of keeping yourself hydrated to keep the cramps away especially if you exercise. Some sports drinks contain added electrolytes that could help replenish the lost electrolytes through sweating.
      • Vitamin supplements may be beneficial if you suffer from cramps due to pregnancy. Adequate intakes of calcium and magnesium can help to relieve cramping when pregnant but make sure you consult your doctor before taking anything. Calcium and magnesium intake can also help with night cramps.
      • Footwear is another factor to think about if you suffer from cramps regularly. Make sure you wear comfortable cushioned shoes with a good arch support. This will help support the rest of the muscles in your leg and prevent injuries to the foot.
      • Pillows are great if you place them under your knees while in bed. This will help prevent night cramps by elevating the blood flow to the muscles.

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      Jenny Marchal

      Freelance Writer

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      Last Updated on February 18, 2019

      8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

      8 Best Cardio Workouts for Efficient Weight Loss

      When people think of cardio, usually a boring treadmill, elliptical machine, or other mundane activity comes to mind. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

      When you’re short on time or easily distracted, there are a variety of fat-burning cardio alternatives that will increase your body’s metabolism, boost weight loss, and keep you interested.

      Here’s a list of different types of cardio workouts:

      • Steady State (Burns less fat, but isn’t as demanding on the body)
      • Interval Training (Burns more fat)
      • HIIT
      • Spinning
      • Stairs
      • Weight Training (Supersets) short rest periods
      • Weight Training (Compound Sets) short rest periods
      • Machine Circuit Training

      And I’m going to talk about each of them in detail:

      1. Steady State

      Steady state cardio involves working at a low to moderate intensity — around 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, for a sustained period of time. This type of cardio doesn’t burn a huge number of calories, but it does burn a high percentage of fat tissue for fuel, and it isn’t too draining.

      An example of steady state cardio would be a long outdoor walk at a moderate pace. Interval training, on the other hand, is much more intense.

      2. Interval Training

      Similar to HIIT but with exercises that are slightly longer in duration, interval training alternates levels of intensity. For example, if you enjoy running, you would run or sprint for 30 seconds, then bring down your heart rate and walk for two minutes.

      Pick two intensities per interval, usually one at 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and the other at 60 percent, and alternate between them. I find that 85% for 30 seconds and 60% for one minute, not only burns more calories but increases my energy level as well.

      Another example would be jumping rope. Jump rope for two minutes, rest for one minute. Begin again, this time jumping rope for one minute and resting for one minute. On the third and final round, jump rope for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds. Repeat five sets of this routine.

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      3. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)

      Have a busy schedule? Fifteen minutes a few times a week is all you need. HIIT is an extremely popular workout because it can be done quickly, burn calories in a short amount of time, and can even be done in your home or during a lunch break at work. And the best part – You don’t need any equipment.

      With the use of your body weight, HIIT is typically 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of active rest which means your heart rate remains elevated for the entire 15-minute workout.

      Check out this HIIT routine by Fitness Blender: 15 Minute HIIT Workout

      4. Spinning

      Spinning is a great way to get your heart up and keep it up in a 45-minute spin class. Our thighs and back are our largest muscles so they work the hardest.

      To get the most out of spinning, try to stay out of the saddle throughout an entire spin class. That way, you are forced to hold up your body weight which burns more calories and increases intensity.

      It’s also great for stabilizing and building strong core muscles, versus cycling outdoors, where most of the time you are sitting in the saddle and going for distance (steady-state cardio).

      5. Stairs

      One of my favorite places to get out of the gym for cardio and trim fat from my thighs and butt is the Santa Monica Stairs, near California’s most popular beach. Climbing 170 steps a few times builds the glutes, leans the thighs, strengthens the calves, and builds endurance.

      So, if the gym is not your scene and you love the outdoors, climbing stairs is a great alternative. Find a place with multiple steps, do six or seven rounds, and you’ve easily burned around 600 calories.

      6. Supersets

      A superset is two exercises that work opposing muscle groups, such as biceps and triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings, or different body parts such as the lower and upper body with little to no recovery between sets.

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      The superset may include two to five sets of 8 to 15 repetitions of each exercise or more.[1]

      So, if you love to workout with weight-training but aren’t really feeling cardio, supersets with no more than 30-second rest periods between exercises will keep your heart rate up. Not only will you build muscle, you will burn fat!

      For example, say you are doing a leg workout, five sets of exercises with high reps and low weight is all it takes to turn your weight-training into a cardio workout.

      Here’s one of my leg training workouts:

      i. Dumbbell Step-Ups on a secure bench or box (4×15, each leg)

      ii. Front Squat (4×15)

      iii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet (4×15)

      iv. Leg Extension (4×15)

      v. Leg Curl (4×15)

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        Photo Credit: Shape Magazine

        vi. Front Squat


          Photo Credit: Stack

          vii. Wide Stance Dumbbell Goblet Squat

          viii. Leg Extension

          ix. Leg Curl

            Photo Credit: T Nation

            7. Compound Sets

            Compound exercises are exercises that recruit muscles in the entire body, such as pull-ups, squats, bench press, etc. However, a compound set simply means to “compound” the number of different exercises into a series of sets with little or no recovery between, similar to supersets.

              This may be accomplished by performing four to five exercises for the same muscle group, opposing muscle groups or total body exercises performed in succession such as full body extensions, followed by squat/cleans and complete the compound set of compound exercises with lunges with biceps curls.

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              Compound sets put stress on the body and are great for expending additional calories while strength-training.

              8. Machine Weight Training Circuit

              Like compound exercises, a machine circuit workout targets the entire body, upper body, lower body, or core. The difference is, with the use of machines instead of free weights, muscle strength is increased by by making your muscles work against weight.[2] By limiting rest periods between exercises to 30 seconds, your metabolism will go into over-drive!

              Machines also give you better control over the exercises, which decreases risk of injury.

              Here’s a machine circuit training example: Muscle and Strength Machine Workout

              The Bottom Line

              The above-mentioned workouts should be completed within 30 minutes, unless you’re taking a class which is typically 45 to 60 minutes, giving you time to get on with the rest of your day.

              By keeping your rest periods to a minimum between exercises, your heart rate will stay elevated and you will burn more calories, get lean, and have more energy.

              Don’t be a gym rat, spending unnecessary time doing lengthy workouts that give you minimum results. For efficient weight loss, perform these workouts three times a week and watch the fat melt away while achieving your fitness goals.

              More Resources About Weight Loss

              Featured photo credit: Spencer Dahl via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Mountain Life Fitness: Super sets, compound sets and giant sets
              [2] Better Health Channel: Resistance training – health benefits

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