Stop and Rest
If you get a muscle cramp during a workout, stop and take a break. Do not try to keep exercising until the cramp subsides, since this can aggravate the pain and even damage the muscle.
Taking a cold shower or bath can help ease muscle pain and cramps. Ice packs can help as well, since cold applications help prevent muscle soreness by reducing inflammation. Many professional athletes use cooling methods after intense workouts.
Dont Use Heat
Using heat during the first 48 hours after straining your back is not advisable. Heat contributes to inflammation by dilating blood vessels and this can further aggravate sore and cramped muscles. While heat packs or hot water bottles may feel soothing they will actually increase stiffness and discomfort. Using heat after 48 hours should generally be OK.
Avoid Topical Creams
There are a wide variety of over-the-counter creams that promise to soothe muscle cramps and stiffness. Most of these topical creams only make your skin feel warm or cool and do nothing to soothe the underlying muscles. Using an ice pack would be much more effective!
Take a Dip
Swimming is known to be one of the best therapies for stiff and cramped muscles. Movement in water helps ease soreness and stretches the muscles. The cold water also helps reduce swelling or inflammation.
Get a Massage
A gentle massage will help relax your muscles, easing stiffness and cramps. However, make sure the massage is gentle, since some vigorous therapies can actually strain sore muscles.
Take Anti-inflammation Medication
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin help reduce swelling and discomfort. Some anti-inflammation creams (which are different from topical sports creams mentioned earlier) can also help reduce the symptoms of cramping. It would be a good idea to discuss which over-the-counter product to use with your pharmacist or doctor.
Get Adequate Calcium
Muscle cramps are often linked to a lack of calcium. Make sure you get enough calcium in your diet by eating foods such as spinach, dairy products, and broccoli. Calcium supplements may also be appropriate for some people.
Take a Walk
Walking for a few minutes after an intense muscle spasm passes is often a good idea, since the movement will help restore smooth blood flow to your muscles.
Drinking plenty of water is one of the best strategies to avoid muscle cramps, especially when you exercise. Your body needs adequate fluids to function efficiently and dehydration can cause your muscles to spasm or cramp.
© Copyright 1997 - 2014 ThirdAge Media, LLC. All rights reserved.