A muscle spasm, also called muscle cramp, is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle. It's often quick, painful, and may occur due to overusing a muscle, tired muscles, previous injury, or straining.
The spasm can also occur if you overstretch a muscle or hold the same position for a long time. As a result, the muscle cells exhaust energy and fluids and become hyperexcitable, leading to a forceful contraction according to a Chiropractor in Meridian Idaho.
A spasm affects part of a muscle, the whole muscle, or adjacent muscles. It may occur in the abdomen, arms, feet, hamstrings, hands, the front of your thighs, back of your calves, or lower legs.
Some people are pre-disposed to muscle spasms, for instance, older adults and people with nerve disorders. It's also common among people who strain their muscles, like athletes.
Other causes are dehydration, mineral deficiencies such as inadequate magnesium and potassium.
Some home remedies our chiropractic clinic recommends to relieve muscle spasms include;
Stretching the Muscle
To soothe the periodic pain, stop using the muscle, let it relax then stretch it out. There are specific stretches for the muscles in your calves, thighs, back, and neck.
Calf Muscle Spasms or Hamstring Muscle Spasm
Stand and hold on to a surface for balance. Bend the affected leg at the knee and reach your leg backward from the hip.
Hold your ankle, and pull your foot up behind you toward the buttock.
An easy way to stretch a back spasm is walking around at a slow, steady pace to loosen the back muscles and relieve the spasm.
Another option is the tennis ball stretch, where you lie down on a flat surface. Place a tennis ball or any small ball beneath the affected area for a few minutes and relax.
While breathing normally, move the ball to another spot and repeat the process.
The foam roller stretch is where you lie on the floor with a foam roller aligned to your spine at a 90-degree angle. Keep your arms crossed on your chest, then move your back over the roller. Move up to your shoulders, down to your belly button.
You can also try the exercise ball stretch, where you sit on an exercise ball and lie back. Your back, shoulders, and buttocks should stretch out on the ball while keeping your feet flat on the ground. Lie in this position for some minutes.
To relieve neck spasms, sit, or stand then rotate your shoulders forward, up, back and down, ten times. Repeat for another ten times in the opposite direction by turning your shoulders back, up, forward, and down.
Gently rub or massage the affected area for relief from physical pain and muscle spasms. For prolonged back spasms, pinch the area around it hard and hold for a few minutes. If you can’t reach the area, have someone do it for you by seeking a Chiropractor near me.
You can treat muscle pain and spasms effectively using heat or cold. If a spasm is recurrent, place an ice pack on the muscle at intervals of about 15 to 20 minutes, several times a day. Ensure that you place a thin cloth or towel beneath the ice pack so that it's not in direct contact with your skin.
You can use a heating pad or a hot washcloth for heat therapy at intervals of 15 to 20 minutes. After taking off the heating pad, place an ice pack immediately. This is to prevent any inflammation that could be worse as a result of the heat.
Try other options such as a warm bath, hot shower, or hot tub to relax your muscles.
Staying hydrated prevents muscle spasms. If you get spasms, try drinking some water. Hydrating is essential if you’re exercising and in hot weather.
Performing light exercise before bed prevents common leg cramps that occur at night. However, our Meridian Chiropractor cautions against intense exercise right before bed can affect your sleep. By mild exercise, we mean, for example;
Several natural muscle relaxers can help with muscle spasms:
Chamomile is a herb that treats several illnesses, including muscle spasms. It contains many flavonoids with anti-inflammatory properties. You can take chamomile tea or rub chamomile oil on the affected muscles for relief.
Cherries and tart cherry juice help to prevent inflammation and muscle pain associated with running. It contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that relax your muscles.
Blueberries have antioxidants that decrease oxidative stress and inflammation in your muscles. A smoothie before and after exercise speeds up recovery from muscle damage.
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, a natural muscle relaxer. You can add it to food, use it in capsule form or apply it in the form of a cream to the affected muscles.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to muscle pain and spasms. You can find it as a liquid, tablets, capsules, or simply bask in the sun. Foods rich in Vitamin D include eggs, fish, and fortified milk.
Magnesium keeps muscles regular and facilitates nerve function. Buy a supplement, or find it in foods such as black beans, cashews, spinach, edamame, bananas, almonds, legumes, and brown rice.
Apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory and alkalizing properties that reduce muscle pain and inflammation. You can mix a teaspoon in drinking water or apply it to the affected muscles.
Essential oils provide pain relief and reduce tension in muscles. For spasms, try lemongrass, peppermint, and marjoram essential oil. To minimize stress, try marjoram, peppermint, lavender essential oils. You can massage the affected area with carrier oils like coconut oil and olive oil.
When to See a Doctor
Muscle aches are common, especially after new forms of exercise. If you have sudden, sharp pain or reduced ability to move, it’s time to see a doctor. If the muscle spasms recur frequently, or if the pain is getting in the way of your normal daily activities, consider seeing one of the doctors at Align Integrated Medical.
If muscle spasms are recurrent after trying all these remedies, you may consider seeing a chiropractor. If you're looking for a great Meridian Chiropractor, give Align Integrated Medical a call at 208-639-1397 and schedule an appointment for an initial evaluation.