If you are a sufferer of this exquisitely painful condition, I know that you’d do anything to make it stop. The causes of cramp are pretty varied and usually easily identified. However, this is not always the case and it can still remain a mystery for some.
Here is a list of the most typical causes:
- mineral imbalance in particular salt, calcium and magnesium
- the side of effects of some drugs
- tight muscles
- over-straining a muscle
- simply holding a body part in one position for any length of time.
Even though the causes do vary from person to person what does not vary is just how painful cramp can be. Trying to pretend nothing is happening requires supreme efforts of pretence, usually beyond what is humanly possible. It’s a mean old bean.
Your crampy body
The most common place for cramp is in the legs especially calves, hamstrings (at the back of your thigh) and in your toes. However it can be in almost any part of the body. The photo depicts how hand cramp can occur simply by holding a book for too long.
To work towards sorting out your cramp, firstly identify the possible causes which are relevent to you from the list above. Where possible make changes as appropriate.
Secondly understanding the mechanism of cramp will help you curtail it whether you are nipping it in the bud or, if you are unlucky enough for it to have suddenly taken ahold with a vengeance.
SO WHAT IS A MUSCLE CRAMP EXACTLY?
Cramp is an involuntary, painful contraction in a muscle. The cramp can ease within seconds or if the gods are really against you, minutes. Sometimes the cramp is accompanied by a palpable knotting of the muscle which can feel really sore for some days afterwards. All very nasty.
If you are a crampy person consider exactly how your cramp effects your body. Knowing that a cramp is simply an over excited muscle contracting at will, then by placing that muscle in a position of stretch makes it harder for that muscle to continue contracting.
So for example if your toes cramp down towards the sole of your foot, if you stretch your toes up towards the top of your foot you will help disperse the cramp more quickly.
Here solutions for your cramping critters.
1.Cramping calves (a great stretch if you get cramp in bed)
Keep your back knee straight and lean onto your hands
Squeeze your bottom
Feel the stretch in your calf.
2. Cramping hamstrings (the back of your thigh)
Place your heel on a low step and straighten your knee
Stick your bottom out and stretch the back of your leg.
3. Cramping curly toes
Place the under surface of your toes on the floor
Gently lean back on your heels to stretch the under surface of your foot.
4. Cramping sticking up / spreading toes
Sit up straight on the edge of your seat
Place the top surface of your toes on the floor
Gently push your ankle forwards to stretch the top of your foot.
5. Cramping hands and fingers
Place the palms of your hands on a table
Keep the under surface of your fingers on the table
Raise the heels of your hands away from the table.
Do this with your fingers together and your fingers apart.
Never push into pain with any of the stretches. If you feel a cramp being triggered by the stretch then start again and stretch with less enthusiasm. Apply this principle of stretching out a muscle in the opposite direction the cramp wants to move it, to every part of the body that is affected.
Use this as an emergency tactic by all means. However your strategy should be to identify why it happens in the first place and make the necessary changes, then regularly stretch out that body part to help stop it happening as much, or as strongly or indeed at all. As always, if you need my help, reach out via my contact page.