What is a muscle spasm?
It’s an involuntary contraction of the muscle that is usually quite painful and which occurs suddenly and resolves just as quickly. Different than a twitching muscle, which is an uncontrolled movement of the muscle visible beneath the skin, spasms occur for a variety of reasons:
- When a muscle is overused and tired. The muscle can become hyperexciteable when it runs out of fluid and energy, developing a forceful contraction. These range from cramps sustained by athletes to writer’s cramps caused by prolonged use.
- Dehydration can also lead to muscle spasm. If depleted of water, glucose, sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which allow proteins to interact and develop organized contraction, muscles can go into spasm.
- Atherosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries, which can deny muscle groups necessary blood supply and nutrients, can also lead to muscle spasm and cramps.
- Leg spasms are often related to overuse, but nocturnal leg cramps, involving calf and toe muscles can also be place in this category.
- Diabetes, anemia, kidney disease, thyroid, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and hormone imbalance have also been linked with spasms.
Though not a serious condition, itself, muscle spasms can be quite painful and frustrating if they are reoccurring (especially nighttime leg cramps.) Like most situations involving overall muscle health, prevention is the key:
- Say it with us folks, “Stay hydrated.” It’s our mantra here at Bodyquirks but that’s only because it’s wise. Drinking an adequate supply of water everyday is simply a “no-brainer,” in our world.
- Be sure to perform a proper warm-up prior to exercise and a cool-down and gentle stretch post work-out.
- Eat plenty of magnesium rich foods to help keep muscles at their optimum performance levels.
Once a spasm has occurred the best course of action to release and relieve the cramping and pain is as follows:
- Gently stretch the muscle to release it from it’s cramp.
- Enjoy an Epsom salt bath, infusing your tired muscles with a regenerative dose of magnesium to aid in it’s relaxation.
- Massage the affected area or if pain and tightness persist, schedule a bodywork appointment for relief.
- Be sure to hydrate, preferably with an electrolyte replenishing drink like Emergen-C’s lime Electro-Mix.
- Homeopathy can help as well.