Muscular cramps and how to prevent them
Muscular cramps or spasms can be described as painful contractions and tightening of your muscles. The worse thing about experiencing this type of contraction is that it is involuntary, and you cannot control it if you were to experience them. However, there are many ways you can reduce the chances of this happening.
One of the main ways of preventing these painful contractions is to stay hydrated. When the body is hydrated it helps muscles contract and then relax again. With muscles being made of 80% water, it is imperative that we stay hydrated as muscle cells become less irritable and uncomfortable, reducing your chances of experiencing a muscle cramp. Keeping hydrated is also great for blood viscosity (thickness of your blood). If your blood is more water like it can travel down the blood vessels easier to the muscles. The better the blood flow the more efficient the muscle is going to work, and this can be achieved by hydration alone!
When we speak about muscle cramps water is very important. However, this might not be enough, especially if you train regularly. It is not only important to stay hydrated, but you need to be able to maintain your bodies electrolyte balance too. Electrolytes are minerals that include sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride and these minerals are essential for the body, as they help it absorb water and maintain muscular health. If you regularly train it is important to not only consume enough water to replace what you’re losing, but to also consume enough electrolytes to restore balance of which you will lose through sweating, perspiration and other ways throughout the day or your workout
When a muscle cramps it is ultimately contracting involuntary and you should try and relax and let it pass if you can. Stretching regularly can decrease your chances of muscles cramping as you’re regularly lengthening your muscles (opposite to that of the cramp). By regularly lengthening your muscle fibres you’re returning your muscle to its normal relaxed shape, whilst increasing blood flow to this area to aid recovery and healing.
Massage and blood flow
Another method that one could utilise to prevent these painful contractions is massage therapy. Massage therapy can release tight muscles that are causing restrictions, by applying pressure with a variety of techniques. During a massage there is an increase in blood circulation and temperature, this helps the tissues become more pliable (moveable) increasing flexibility even if it’s only temporary. With the fresh blood flow and oxygen that massage brings, it allows the body to make more ATP (energy) this in turn stops the muscle fibres contracting so much, bringing back balance reducing the chance of them cramping. This is of special importance if you take part in long distance events