For many, muscle cramps are an everyday reality. In fact, studies show that about 50% of all adults experience muscle cramps at some time in their lives.
Muscle cramps are painful involuntary contractions of the muscles. Cramps occur at any part of the body but they are more frequently felt at the legs, thighs and feet. It can happen any time: while you're walking, when you're about to sleep, even when you're sitting. A lot of people however usually experience it at night.
Cramps can have several causes: poor circulation, overworked muscles, infection, swelling, potassium and calcium imbalance, over exercise, muscle injury/irritation, pregnancy and so forth. You're also more likely to have muscle cramps if you're pregnant or an alcoholic as well as if you have kidney or thyroid problems.
Although generally harmless, a muscle cramp can render you unable to move or work because the pain can sometimes be excruciating. However, you don't have to suffer or be bogged down by a muscle cramp. There are easy self-care measures you can apply to relieve yourself of the pain. Below are 20 home remedies you can try:
1. Apply hot compress. A heating pad placed on the area affected can lessen the pain.
2. Alternate hot and cold compress: hot compress for 6 minutes then cold compress for 30 seconds four times.
3. Stretch your legs. Do this with your feet flexed up and not down.
4. Drink water. You can have muscle cramps if you're dehydrated. Drink 8 glasses of water a day and more if you engage in intense physical exercise or labor. Dehydration may cause electrolyte loss which may lead to muscle cramps.
5. Eat mineral-rich foods. To correct mineral imbalances, consume calcium-rich foods like milk and cheese as well as food filled with potassium such as avocado, banana and cantaloupe.
6. Drink chamomile tea. Chamomile tea has glycine which helps relax muscles.
7. Rest. Excessive physical exertion can overstrain or injure muscles, so take time to relax or rest in between exercise sessions or when engaged in heavy physical activity.
8. Soak your feet in a tub or pail of water that is as hot as you can tolerate. If available, steep into the water a bag of mustard or celery seeds. Do this twice every day.
9. Take a hot shower. Heat will dilate your blood vessels allowing more blood to flow into cramped muscles.
10. Massage affected area (preferably with herbal oils) in the direction of the muscle to improve blood circulation.
11. Lose weight if you're overweight. Don't exhaust your muscles with more weight than it can handle.
12. Avoid wearing tight clothing as much as possible. Don't do anything that will constrict your blood vessels.
13. Refrain from sitting cross-legged.
14. Try standing on tip toes. This is effective in relieving cramps for many.
15. Do not sit or stand for a prolonged period of time. Move or shift body weight frequently.
16. Quit smoking. Nicotine constricts blood vessels which decreases blood circulation into the muscle tissues.
17. Eat green leafy vegetables for you to have balanced amounts of minerals in your body.
18. Promote better blood circulation with low fat, low salt, and low sugar diet.
19. Sleep on a firm mattress with the head of the bed elevated about 2 inches.
20. Drink peppermint tea. Peppermint tea has camphor which relieves pain.