Learning about muscle cramps -


A cramp can be defined as an involuntary and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax. Cramps may affect any muscle under your voluntary control that is skeletal muscle. Muscles that span two joints are the ones that are most prone to cramping. Cramps can involve a part or all of muscle, or even several muscles in a group. The most commonly affected muscle groups are back of lower leg/calf, back of thigh (hamstrings) and front of thigh (quadriceps). Also, cramps in the feet, hands, arms, abdomen and along the rib cage are very common.
Muscle cramps can range in intensity from a slight tic to highly agonizing pain. A cramping muscle may feel hard to the touch and/or appear visibly distorted or sometimes twitch beneath the skin. It may last a few seconds to 15 minutes or longer. Also it might recur multiple times before it actually goes away.
Treating Muscle Cramps
Generally, cramps go away on their own without the need for seeing a doctor. However one cant follow a few self-care tips to avoid them in future. These would include stopping whatever activity triggered the cramp and working towards better overall fitness. Doing regular flexibility exercises before and after you work out to stretch muscle groups most prone to cramping can be very helpful. Always warm up before stretching.
Certain stretches can also do a world of good for your cramping muscles. These include calf muscle stretch, hamstring muscle stretch and quadriceps muscle stretch.
1. Calf muscle stretch: In a standing lunge with both feet pointed forward, then straighten the rear leg.
2. Hamstring muscle stretch: Sit with one leg folded in and the other straight out, foot upright and toes, ankle relaxed. Lean forward slightly and touch the foot of straightened leg.
3. Quadriceps muscle stretch: While standing, hold the top of your foot with opposite hand and gently pull heel toward buttocks.
4. Release each stretch after holding briefly.
For treating a cramp that lasts long or refuses to go away, gently stretch and massage the cramping muscle, holding it in stretched position till the cramp stops. Another of treating the cramp is applying heat to tense or tight muscles, or cold to sore or tender muscles.

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Muscle Cramps
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