Muscle cramps and spasms can be incredibly uncomfortable and painful. These involuntary muscle contractions can disrupt your daily life and are often a sign of an underlying issue. Outside of making it difficult to perform at your best during physical activity, muscle spasms can happen unexpectedly, like at night, disrupting sleep and making recovery that much more difficult. In this blog post, we will explore the causes of cramps and muscle spasms and provide you with practical tips on how to reduce and prevent them.
Understanding Muscle Cramps and Spasms
Muscle cramps and spasms can occur for various reasons. In order to combat these things, read below for our TOP 3 reasons that help our athletes understand where their cramps and muscle spasms are coming from:
1.You’re not properly hydrated: Staying properly hydrated is crucial for muscle function. Dehydration can lead to imbalances in electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which are essential for muscle contractions.
2. You skipped your warm-up or cool-down: Warming up before exercise helps prepare your muscles for activity by increasing blood flow and flexibility. This can reduce the risk of cramps during your workout.
3. Your electrolytes are off balance: Electrolytes play a critical role in muscle contraction and relaxation. Imbalances can lead to cramps and spasms.
What it boils down to, how well is your body chemistry for supporting your performance and recovery goals? Electrolyte imbalances, dehydration and improper blood circulation all involve disturbances in the body’s essential mineral ions like sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. These minerals play a crucial role in muscle function and nerve signaling. When their levels are disrupted, it can disrupt the delicate balance required for muscle contraction and relaxation. Low potassium, for example, can lead to muscle weakness and cramps. Similarly, inadequate calcium and magnesium can cause muscle spasms.
Chronic electrolyte imbalances may result from conditions like kidney disorders, gastrointestinal diseases, or excessive sweating. Left untreated, they can lead to more severe issues such as heart arrhythmias, seizures, and organ dysfunction. Maintaining proper electrolyte levels is vital for overall health and muscle function.
What can you do about it?
- Make it a habit to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day, paying extra attention to hydration before, during, and after physical activity.
- Consider incorporating electrolyte-rich fluids, such as natural sports drinks or coconut water, during intense exercise to replenish lost electrolytes.
- A proper warm-up typically includes light aerobic activity, dynamic stretching, and gradually increasing the intensity of your movements.
- Cooling down after exercise involves gentle stretching and low-intensity activities, which help your muscles relax and prevent post-workout cramps.
- Maintain a balanced diet that includes foods rich in electrolytes like potassium (e.g., bananas, sweet potatoes), magnesium (e.g., nuts, seeds), and calcium (e.g., dairy products, leafy greens).
Reducing cramps and muscle spasms involves a combination of lifestyle changes, proper hydration, and dietary changes. While occasional cramps are common and usually harmless, if you are getting persistent or severe cramping, it may indicate an underlying problem that requires more attention. Speaking to a healthcare provider like a naturopathic doctor can help you get to the bottom of why the cramping keeps coming back and holding you back from getting the performance goals you’re looking for. Getting a full health assessment, including bloodwork and a diet & lifestyle assessment will help you see if you are missing any key nutrients that can help with decreasing your cramping and improving your performance. By taking steps to maintain muscle health and overall well-being, you can make sure your body is performing at its highest potential, whether you are competing for gold, or playing with your kids at home.
Dr. Nana-Adjoa Bourne, ND
Dr. Bourne is a Naturopathic Doctor and certified Sports Nutritionist at Axis Therapy & Performance located in Toronto. She works from the inside-out, supporting performance optimization and injury recovery alongside physical rehabilitation. She also incorporates IV Therapy into her treatment protocols
Axis Therapy & Performance – Physiotherapy, Chiropractor, RMT Scarborough
1585 Markham Rd, Unit 308
Scarborough, ON M1B 2W1
Axis Therapy & Performance – Physiotherapy, Chiropractor, RMT, Naturopath Riverdale
377 Broadview Ave, Unit 101
Toronto, ON M4K 2M7