We have all experienced some cramps and muscle stiffness at some time in our lives. Although this condition has a significant incidence, it may sometimes be absent for many years. Still, no matter how unpleasant the sensation of muscle stiffness and cramps is, it is not so serious. The worst part, however, is that it is often unpredictable and this is a problem, especially when it comes to professional athletes.
Muscle stiffness and cramps
Muscle stiffness and cramps can be determined as an involuntary and painful contraction of skeletal muscles, and especially those of them that span two joints together. Furthermore, cramps can affect not only a certain part of muscles but also the entire muscle or a functional group of muscles and the symptoms range from slight discomfort that lasts only for a few seconds, to significantly longer and agonizing spasm.
Sometimes such series of events is repeated several times until their final disappearance. Most people complain about muscle stiffness in the thighs and lower leg. Although cramps and muscle stiffness is a common complaint, science is not yet able to fully explain this phenomenon. The truth is that because of scientists’ poor knowledge in this field, they have not created the means that can help us eliminate this problem at the moment. And still, there are some several efficient things you may do in order to prevent muscle stiffness.
Types of muscle stiffness and cramps
- Genuine muscle stiffness – this is the most common form of muscle stiffness and cramps;
- Dystonic cramps – this muscle stiffness occurs when the same muscles are involved in prolonged contraction and thereby maintain a certain posture or repeat the same movement;
- Titanic muscle stiffness – a prolonged contraction of muscles under the action of some information, coming from the nerves innervating them. This type of cramp is often associated with a group of conditions;
- Contractures – these are conditions in which the muscle is not able to emerge from the contraction. They are mainly caused by depletion of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in the muscles and are defined as a serious condition, which is either acquired or innate.
How to proceed when it comes to muscle stiffness and cramps
Muscle stiffness may continue for a few seconds for quite a few minutes. Some more serious and prolonged cramps may even exceed 10-15 minutes, so you need to know how to proceed with them. Here are a few ideas what should you do in order to deal with muscle stiffness and cramps:
- stop the activity that caused the stiffness or the cramps immediately;
- gently stretch the cramped muscle and start a message;
- try to warm the muscle if it is hard and too tight;
- drink a lot of fluids that are rich in salts.
Muscle stiffness prevention
- Fluid intake
Due to their ignorance, many people underestimate the properties of water and rarely drink the recommended daily amount of fluids. After all, you should know that this is the main “ingredient” of every living organism and even some small deviations may affect your health significantly. Muscle stiffness and cramps are exactly a sign of dehydration.
the human body maintains a relative balance between liquids and salts, which is called “fluid and electrolyte balance”. The general rule is that when one component decreases, the other one should compensate for this. And in this sense, if your diet lacks salt, it is more likely for you to suffer from muscle stiffness and cramps.
Sodium salts play an important role in many processes in our body such as conduction of nerve impulses, transportation of organic and inorganic substances in the cell membranes, the activity of enzymes, etc.
Potassium is an important macro element that prevents cramps and muscle stiffness, and overall muscle contractions.
Magnesium is as important for the prevention of conditions such as muscle stiffness and crams.