If you are anyone who is mildly athletic or someone who simply engages in regular walking or some sort of physical activity, then you have probably suffered the effects of a muscle spasm. The pain at times can be debilitating and depending on where you are having the spasm can make it painful to sit, lay down, or to simply stand. If you are currently suffering from a muscle spasm you may be waiving your fists to the air screaming “why god, why me?” Well there is no need for drama because in this article we are going to explain what a muscle spasm is and some tips you can do to treat and prevent them.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a muscle spasm is:
“…persistent involuntary hypertonicity of one or more muscles usually of central origin and commonly associated with pain and excessive irritability”
That is all fine and good but it still doesn’t get to the nitty-gritty of the whole situation.
What is a muscle spasm and what causes them
WebMD provides a better definition as to what a muscle spasm is and basically says that it is an involuntary contraction of a muscle. There are also certain muscle groups that are more prone to spasms.
According to WebMD the following muscle groups are more prone to spasm: calfs, front and back of the thighs, hands, arms, abdomen and along the ribs. There are several things that cause spasms or better known as cramps.
The most common reasons for muscle spasms are: poor circulation, overexertion of muscles (particularly calves), not stretching before physical activity, being dehydrated, muscle fatigue, mineral deficiencies such as calcium, potassium, or magnesium; pinched nerves and spinal cord injuries.
Also WebMD also sites that there are several medications that could possibly cause a muscle spasm. Some of them are quite common and you may even be on a few of them. Perhaps the most common one on the list is Crestor which is a cholesterol lowering medication. For a complete list of side effects from your medications visit: http://www.drugs.com
Treatments for muscle spasms
One of the nutrients most American’s are deprived off is magnesium perhaps it is our general dislike for fruits and vegetables or maybe other lifestyle factors like chronic stress that lead to this deficiency. Either way if you are suffering from spasms you may want to first address or look at mineral deficiencies as a possible cause and in particular magnesium which most of us are lacking.
In the article Magnesium Deficiency May Result in Shorter Life at the website Mercola.com, they say in the event that excess calcium enters our cells due to insufficient levels of magnesium, and sustained muscle contraction, we will suffer, for example, tics and twitches in mild cases. If your deficiency in magnesium becomes chronic, you suffer the symptoms of heart disease such as hypertension, angina pectoris, and arrhythmia, or spasms and contractions characteristic of migraine headache, asthma, or menstrual cramps.
Magnesium is a something that is really important for the human body to function so it is important to either begin eating foods rich in magnesium or to begin supplementing with the mineral with things like ZMA or Natural Calm.
However, taking magnesium alone may not help to cure your problems and you may need to try several other treatments. Like using the tried and true R.I.C.E. techniques. R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice, compress, elevate and you may want to add stretching and heat to that mix as well. Stretching can go a long way with an injury and should never be overlooked.
Benefits of using a foam roller
The website Athletes Treating Athletes recommends doing light foam rolling around an injured area to help release and ease muscle spasms/cramps. This is a essentially a self myofascial release and is like giving yourself a massage using tools and implements.
You can purchase a foam roller practically anywhere these days including your local Target or Wal-Mart in the sporting goods sections, sporting good stores or even possibly a Barnes Noble where they keep the Yoga DVDs. If you are really hardcore you can use a stiff piece of PVC pipe and can even use something like lacrosse ball or tennis ball to reach more targeted points.
One tried and true favorite for most people who work all day on their feet are probably familiar with an Epsom Salt soak. Epsom Salt is essentially a type of salt rich in magnesium.
On Dr.Oz’s Fans website in an article titled: Muscle Spasms and Magnesium Salt Baths:
Dr Oz said that a great Muscle Spasm Home Remedy is to take an Epsom Salt Bath. Add 2 cups of Epsom Salt to your warm water and soak in it for 15 minutes so that the magnesium in the Epsom Salt can get absorbed into your skin. Another good Muscle Spasm Remedy for cramps in your calves is to face towards a wall, place both hands on the wall, and stretch out the back of your legs by pushing yourself towards the wall.
Finally if all else fails you may want to consider going a pharmacological route and take a muscle relaxer and pain reliever. Possibly even consult with your doctor about changing your medications if you believe these are also causing you to have spasms.
Muscle spasms are not fun and you can get them due to a variety of reasons one of the most common reason mineral imbalances most notably magnesium deficiency. There are a number of at home treatment options like stretching, rest and icing an injured area. However, if most options don’t work you may need to consider that any medication you are on is having a negative implication on you. Also, consider taking muscle relaxers and anti-spasm and pain medications if all else fails. Consult your physician before trying any of these treatments. Also, consider the purchase of a foam roller for some light massage work.