Last Updated: August 9, 2017By Categories: Community, Health Tips, Physical Therapy

Muscle cramps can cause significant pain. They can wake you up in the night, or interfere with your daily workout. A muscle cramp is a sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more of your muscles. They are also known as a “charley horse” or a muscle spasm. When a muscle cramps it is protecting itself from being overstretched.

Here are some tips to reduce muscle cramps and provide that much needed relief:

  • Do not stretch–   Many people tend to grab their toes and pull when experiencing a calf cramp.This can potentially cause damage to the muscle.
  • Contract the opposite muscle– This is a procedure called Reciprocal Inhibition. Basically the cramping muscle is sent a signal to relax through the activation of the opposite muscle. For example, if you are experiencing a cramp in your hamstring, try straightening your leg to activate your quads. If your quads are cramping, activate the hamstring by bending your knee. For the bottom of your foot, lift your foot and spread out your toes for relief. This method of relieving muscle cramps is the most effective and safe way to relieve pain.
  • Use cold compressions– Essentially use an ice pack to help numb the pain if you are still experiencing cramps after trying the techniques above.
  • Drink fluids– You could have an electrolyte imbalance. Try rehydrating your muscles by drinking an electrolyte drink, such as Pedialyte, that is low in sugar. Water is also very important to help hydrate your muscles.

Remember if these methods do not work and you feel you could be experiencing something more severe, call your doctor and schedule an appointment for an evaluation. For more information on Reciprocal Inhibition click here.