Have you ever experienced a sudden pain in your muscles, without any external cause? You could be walking or sleeping, and the pain suddenly creeps up on you, waking you up from your sleep, wondering what caused the pain. They mostly occur in thighs, feet and calf muscles, and though does not pose any severe risk to your overall health, can be quite irritating and bothersome.
Muscle cramps are involuntary and sudden contraction of one or more of your muscles and can cause severe pain . A sudden and sharp pain, that lasts from a few seconds to 15 minutes, is the most common symptom of a muscle cramp .
Muscle cramps have several causes. Some camps are caused by the overuse of your muscles (exercising), while injuries and dehydration can also trigger cramps . Low levels of calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium in the body can also muscle cramps. Also, the low blood supply to your legs and feet can cause cramping in those areas when you exercise, walk .
In some, medical conditions such as spinal nerve compression, kidney failure, pregnancy, alcoholism etc. can also cause muscle cramps . Muscle cramps are usually harmless and do not require medical attention, as they can be treated with quick and simple home remedies.
Today, we will look at some effective home remedies for muscles cramps.
Note: The home remedies can be used for muscle cramps caused by excessive exercise and other minor causes, and should not be considered for muscle cramps caused by underlying health conditions such as kidney failure, nerve compression etc.
1. Cold Compress
One of the best home remedies to relieve muscle cramps, cold therapy or cold compress includes applying ice or cold to the injured site to get relief . It is often used to reduce muscle pains resulting from an acute sports injury. Applying a cold compress can reduce muscle cramps and muscle strain .
- Wrap a few ice cubes in a towel and apply it on the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Repeat this a few times in a day.
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2. Heat Therapy
Heat therapy involves the application of hot packs on the area affected by the cramps. Applying a heat pack on the affected area of the legs helps to relax the stiff muscles and relieves the pain .
- Place a heating (not too hot) pad in the cramping area.
- Apply it evenly for 15 to 20 minutes.
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The unanimous solution for most type of pain, massaging the area where the cramps are can help promote faster recovery from muscle damage that causes leg pain. It also improves blood circulation in the legs .
- Rub warm coconut or mustard oil on the affected area.
- Massage for 10 minutes and do this 3 times a day.
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4. Epsom Salt Bath
A naturally occurring mineral, Epsom salt help reduce inflammation of the muscle tissues and relieves muscle pain caused by the cramps, and help ease the stress . It also reduces muscle pains in chronic condition like fibromyalgia.
- For the bath add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt to a standard size bathtub filled with warm or hot water.
- Relax in it for 15-30 minutes.
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5. Apple Cider Vinegar
This is one of the most effective remedies to get instant relief from muscle cramps . The anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of apple cider vinegar can not only give you relief from the muscle pain caused by the cramps but also prevent it from recurring . The use of apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a remedy for muscle cramp is supported by the fact that cramps are often a sign that you're low in potassium and apple cider vinegar is rich in potassium.
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For ACV bath
- Add 2 cups of raw apple cider vinegar in a bathtub of water.
- Soak the affected leg for 30 minutes.
For ACV drink
- Mix two tablespoons apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon honey to a glass of warm water.
- Mix well and drink.
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6. Cayenne Pepper
It contains capsaicin, which relieves pain caused cramps and general muscles soreness . Capsaicin is a natural muscle relaxant that is recommended to individuals who have fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis .
- You can make your own paste by mixing 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper with one cup of olive or (warm) coconut oil.
- Apply the rub to the affected area, and wash your hands after application.
Note: Keep the rub away from your eyes, nose and mouth as it will cause irritation.
7. Clove Oil
Studies point out that cloves are active ingredients that help the blood flow through the area and help reduce the pain caused by muscle cramps . Clove oil is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and this helps to provide relief from the pain.
- Take a few drops of clove oil and then warm it.
- Gently rub it on the affected muscles and massage the region.
8. Rosemary Oil
Another essential oil effective for providing relief from muscle cramps is rosemary oil. Most essential oils have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and a massage using these can help in relieving pain caused by muscle cramps . Also, the aroma of the essential oils helps in deep relaxation natural healing of the body.
- Take a few drops of lavender essential oil and then warm it.
- Gently rub it on the affected muscles and massage the area affected by the cramp.
Low levels of magnesium in the body can lead to general muscle aches and muscle cramps. Take a magnesium supplement (consult a doctor first). You can start by including foods that are high in magnesium in your diet .
Some of the top food sources for magnesium are molasses, squash and pumpkin seeds (pepitas), spinach, swiss chard, cocoa powder, black beans, flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds and cashews.
10. Cherry Juice
Concentrated cherry juice can help ease muscle cramps as the antioxidants found in cherries called anthocyanins are believed to work by reducing inflammation . These are increasingly beneficial for muscle cramps caused by exercise.
Try drinking tart cherry juice on workout days for less pain and inflammation.
11. Herbal Liniment
Certain herbs have anti-inflammatory and soothing action. Whereas herbal liniment (semi-solid extract of herbs applied like a lotion, gel or balm) have the ability to penetrate the skin and tissues and help in healing .
Chamomile, eucalyptus, rosemary etc. have been in use since ages for treating muscle cramps. Lavender and Rose Mary are well known for their aromatherapy effects they are soothing when applied to the skin and they relax spasms and cramps on being absorbed in the muscles .
On A Final Note…
You can also prevent the onset of muscle cramps by hydrating yourself well as dehydration is one of the main causes of muscle cramps. A bit of stretching exercises for the muscles can also help to relieve the pain.
You should also know that eating mustard or using mustard oil in your food will not help provide quick relief from muscle cramps as the nutrients in mustard doesn't get into your blood fast enough to change blood electrolytes and relieve an exercise-associated muscle cramp.