Muscle Cramps

Mark Perrin-Jones

Often called a charley horse, a muscle cramp is something that I see in the clinic from time to time. It usually affects the legs and most commonly the calves. A cramp is a sudden uncontrolled contraction of a muscle, usually lasting from one minute to several minutes, and affects a great number of people at night.

The exact cause of muscle cramps are not very well understood but it is thought that some risk factors include dehydration, low salt intake, muscle fatigue, heavy exercising, electrolyte imbalances and certain medications.

The most common cause that is typically seen in patients is from exercising in an unusual way, meaning either doing more activity than normal or doing a different activity. Younger people are affected, but it seems to be more often than not older people (over 65 yrs).

To help prevent muscles from cramping I advise you to stay well hydrated, stretch regularly, increase your exercise gradually ( don’t increase your exercise more than 10% from one week to another) and get some regular massage to help keep the muscle fibers elongated.

If you suffer from cramps regularly…..

Take about 500mg of magnesium daily.

Massage the area, stretch the muscle very gently and use a warm compress or bath or foot bath to relax the muscles. Add essentials like lavender or Epsom Salts.

Don’t allow your legs or feet to get cold.

Drink relaxing herbal teas