What Causes Muscle Cramps?

And the Best 5-Step Muscle Cramp Treatment

what causes muscle crampsMuscle cramps typically come on without warning, often at night or just after exercise, and when they do, the pain can be excruciating. While generally harmless, if you get muscle cramps on a regular basis they’ll feel anything but.

Aside from the sudden, sharp pain, muscle cramps make it virtually impossible to use the affected muscle until the cramping stops, which can be dangerous if you’re swimming or in the middle of a strenuous activity that makes taking a break difficult (such as rock climbing).

Muscle cramps often occur in the calf muscles (which are called “Charley horses”) but they can also occur in your feet, thighs, hands, arms, abdomen, or along the rib cage. Back muscle spasms or cramps are also common. The pain may last for only a few seconds or it may continue for 15 minutes or more. In some cases muscle cramps will recur multiple times before going away completely.

What Causes Muscle Cramps?

Muscle cramps are involuntary contractions or spasms in your muscles. They may be caused by nerves that malfunction (such as from a pinched nerve or spinal cord injury) or a variety of other causes, including:

  • Poor or improper blood circulation in your legs
  • Overuse or excessive straining of muscles while exercising (particularly in the heat)
  • Dehydration
  • Mineral deficiencies (particularly potassium, calcium or magnesium)
  • As a side effect of medication (including diuretics, Alzheimer’s drugs, osteoporosis treatments, Parkinson’s drugs, asthma medications or statin cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid, liver and nerve disorders increase the risk

While anyone can get muscle cramps, they’re more common during pregnancy, among athletes engaged in intense or prolonged exercise, and among the elderly (as muscle mass declines with age, your muscles become more easily fatigued and prone to cramping).

You’ve Got a Cramp! Now What?

If you feel a muscle cramp coming on, stop what you’re doing and start this effective four-step treatment immediately:

1. Stretch the cramped muscle

For a calf cramp, for instance, flex your foot and pull the top of your foot upward. For a front thigh cramp, bend your knee and pull your foot behind you, toward your buttocks.

2. Massage the muscle

Rubbing the cramped muscle will help it to relax.

3. Apply heat

If you’re near a shower, direct a stream of warm water onto the muscle. You can also use a heating pad, but avoid the typical electric heating pads, which give off electromagnetic fields (EMFs). EMFs may interfere with body functions and, research suggests, may be linked to cancer and a weakened immune system. Look for a heating pad that uses far-infrared rays (FIR), which lead to vibration effects at the molecular level to improve transportation of oxygen and nutrients, ultimately helping to support regeneration and healing.[i] This is different than the type of heat given off by ordinary heating pads, which only penetrate your skin, not the deep layers of tissues underneath, where pain resides.

The thermal effect of deep heat on your tissues causes blood vessels in capillaries to dilate, which improves blood circulation and promotes pain-relief healing and wellness.

4. Apply cold

If the heat doesn’t work, and your muscle is still cramping, an ice pack may help to relieve the pain. However, you’ll usually find heat relaxes a muscle while cold causes it to further contract, so try heat first.

Wait! Do This FIRST When a Muscle Cramp Hits…

what causes muscle cramps#1: Apply Rub On Relief®.

It’s that simple, and in just minutes your pain will disappear. While you’ll certainly want to make a point to avoid the situations that make muscle cramps more likely — such as getting dehydrated, not including enough mineral-rich foods in your diet or overworking your muscles — sometimes they’re inevitable.

And that is why keeping a tube of Rub On Relief® on hand to end the pain immediately is an invaluable (and easy) strategy if you ever suffer from muscle cramps.

A word to the wise: Rub On Relief® is natural and SAFE … unlike most pain creams on the market, which often contain methyl salicylate (also known as oil of wintergreen). This chemical can be deadly if consumed orally, especially by small children, but can also be toxic when applied topically to your skin.

The ingredient is particularly dangerous when applied in excess or with chronic use, but it’s possible for your body to absorb a higher than normal amount of the chemical even when you use the product as directed. For instance, exercise and heat can both increase the chemical’s rate of absorption (a particularly concerning association since these creams are often used by athletes). When used in excess, methyl salicylate may lead to convulsions and can cause brain regions that control breathing to become overstimulated, leading to hyperventilation and nervous-system problems. Even death has been reported.

Rub On Relief®, on the other hand, contains a synergistic blend of homeopathic ingredients, each carefully selected to address pain and inflammation from a slightly different angle. Not only does it provide immediate pain relief, but its ingredients keep working to provide long-term healing:

  1. Belladonna: A plant that impacts your body’s nervous system, belladonna is used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease as well as for pain relief
  1. Ignatia: A plant that has been used by Chinese doctors for centuries to help calm the nerves and relieve pain due to emotional upset. There is often an emotional component to back pain, and it’s widely known that relieving psychological pain helps improve physical pain
  1. Rhus Tox: Useful for easing a variety of inflammatory symptoms, Rhus tox has been used for over 200 years for complaints back pain, arthritic pain and much more
  1. Phosphorus: Helps reduce the burning sensation in your muscles by regulating the nerves that send “pain” message to your brain
  1. Naja: Relieves inflammation and pain in nerve tissue
  1. Lachesis Mutus: Has a blood-thinning, or anticoagulant, function, which enhances blood flow and facilitates the healing process by hastening the removal of toxins from your blood
  1. Menthol: A balanced amount of menthol gives you relief without the burning other creams cause
  1. MSM: Delivers vital sulphur to your connective tissue to form healthy bonds in your cells and joints for faster healing and pain relief

Once you experience the soothing relief from this natural pain cream, you’ll never have to suffer in agony through a muscle cramp again. Get Rub On Relief® to keep on hand now, before your next muscle cramp begins.

Filed Under: Muscles, Pain Relief
Written By:  Updated:
my avatar

Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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5 thoughts on “What Causes Muscle Cramps?”

  1. Surrinder says:

    Onthe spot relief from cramp: Get hold of any finger of one hand with the other hand and twist the finger lightly to one side,any side.Surely the cramp will go. tried and tested by many people. youmay also do the finger twist of the other person having a cramp,if he cannot do it himself.Please try and experience , to believe it. can confirm the results in this forum. God bless .

  2. Steven says:

    My experience is totally different from the one you recommend for cramps of the calf muscle. I push the tip of my foot downward as if trying to touch the ground with my toes. I used to move my toes upward but this just made the cramp worse. Pushing the foot down with the toes pointing down has been a miracle treatment for my calf cramps.

  3. Dave says:

    My mother-in-law (bless her soul) drank tonic water to releive leg cramps. This has also worked for me. Not sure why it works.

    1. Carol says:

      It’s the quinine in the tonic water that does it. Be careful of quinine. Dill pickle juice is a much better remedy.

  4. Carol says:

    DILL PICKLE JUICE will almost instantly get rid of a leg cramp. Can’t remember where I read it, but my Mother had one and I had her sip on the pickle juice. In a matter of minutes, she was able to walk and the cramp was gone.

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