If you have ever suffered from a muscle cramp you know how painful they are. Cramps can happen at any time and at any age. Plus, they can occur in any part of the body, too. The most common type of cramp is what many call a “charlie horse”, that is one that happens in the calf muscle. It’s important to understand why they happen and how to relieve the pain because as we age, the likelihood of experiencing cramps increases to 70% over the age of 50.
Being active does not reduce the chances a person will have a cramp. In fact, being active can actually cause one. The key is understanding what triggers a cramp to occur in the first place, so you can do your best to avoid one.
- Lactic acid buildup in the muscles caused by overexertion.
- Causing muscles to overstretch whether from exercise, chores, or horseplay.
- An imbalance of the minerals that are responsible for muscle contraction and relaxation.
- Dehydration whether from sweating or medications.
- Long-term inactivity such as from sitting on an airplane.
- A symptom of an underlying illness.
- Simply getting older.
Cramp triggers can happen individually or together. For example, someone may have an overseas flight and also be taking a statin drug for high cholesterol. The point is, be aware of your potential triggers based on your age, health, and physical activity. If you do experience a leg cramp, there are several steps you can take to help relieve the pain. At the first sign of a cramp, rub the muscle affected. You can also, stretch your calf muscle by flexing your foot up and down. If you can walk, try that, or even on your tiptoes. Relax the muscle with heat. If there is a nerve involved, chiropractic care can help, too.
Staying properly hydrated is important in preventing dehydration which can lead to cramps. You can also ensure your mineral intake is sufficient by eating potassium and magnesium rich foods, like bananas and cantaloupe, or use supplements. Also, always begin any exercise regiment with stretching. Plus, as you sleep, use a pillow under your calves to elevate your feet or lay on your side with loose blankets. Ultimately, cramps can be prevented through proper hydration, a well balanced diet, and regular exercise. Complementing that with the care a chiropractor provides will help eliminate nerve irritation, as well.
Don’t let cramps of any kind hinder your quality of life, no matter what your age.