Muscle cramps is a common complaint that mostly occurs in the legs and feet. These cramps are sometimes caused by dehydration or lack of water and low potassium levels. They can also occur during hot weather or when your body loses water, salt, and minerals due to sweating.
To help ward off muscle cramps, drinking plenty of water and eating foods rich in potassium can help. Muscle cramps may also happen if you are engaging in some heavy exercises, especially if you push yourself too much. However, one can get cramps even in their sleep.
As we get older, muscle cramps are most likely to happen because of the natural muscle loss which begins in the mid-40s. We also become less active as we grow old, and our bodies become less sensitive to thirst and more prone to dehydration, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS).
Most muscle cramps usually don’t last very long but some can go on for 15 minutes or even longer. If you ever experience muscle cramps, here are some tips to help with the pain and loosen the cramp.
- Massage the cramped muscle gently.
- Do stretching. If the cramp happened in your calf muscle, bring your foot up in your shin. If the cramp occurred in the front of your thigh, bend your knee and pull your foot toward your buttocks.
- Drink water.
- For tight, rigid muscles, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends applying heat. For muscles that are tender or sore and maybe inflamed, applying ice may help.
Muscle Cramps During Swimming
Muscle cramps can also happen while swimming. If you get a cramp in this situation, stretch out the affected muscle while floating. If it is in your calf muscle, flex the foot up, towards your shin. As soon as the cramp relaxes, swim back to the shore. Relax and don’t panic.
You can always ask someone to accompany you especially if you are not a good swimmer.
Dealing With Shin Splints
Shin splints are in the front of the lower legs that may happen after a downhill hike or when you start a more extraneous activity. It may also happen to those who run or hike long distances regularly.
Apply an ice pack for 15 minutes to help with the pain. If still painful, try taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen.
How To Avoid Leg Cramps And Pain Due To Exercising
- Warm up and stretch before an activity and end with a “cool down” exercise.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Include potassium in your diet. Bananas, orange juice, and potatoes are rich sources of potassium.
- If you get cramps at night, take a warm bath before bed.
Seek Medical Care if you have persistent pain in your leg, redness, a feeling of heat along the leg, swelling, numbness, or unusual color in one leg. This may be a sign of bone fracture or other conditions like arthritis, sciatica, and others.