How to Relieve Muscle Cramps Instantly

Relieve muscle cramps quickly with a few simple techniques.
Relieve muscle cramps quickly with a few simple techniques. (Image: Magickarl1)

Muscle cramps are a common and painful occurrence affecting almost everyone at least once in their lives. Fortunately, with a little bit of knowledge, it is possible to instantly relieve muscle cramps. All it takes is some knowledge of basic anatomy. Muscles work via what is called reciprocal inhibition. For example, it's not possible to extend and bend a limb at the same time, that would create a stalemate. Reciprocal inhibition causes opposing muscle groups to relax during movement and this principle can be used to relieve muscle cramps fast.

Contract the opposing muscle group for instant charley horse relief. For calf muscle cramps this involves flexing the toes. For a hamstring (back of the thigh) leg cramp, flex leg up and forward. For a quadricep leg cramp (front of thigh) lift the heel toward the butt. If the muscle spasm is in a tricky place, try a variety of movements to trigger relaxation via reciprocal inhibition.

Drink water and consider drinking a sports drink in case essential electrolyte levels are low. Cramps are caused by many factors and dehydration is a common muscle cramp culprit. Once you've dealt with the initial crisis, follow up with preventative treatment.

Consider taking potassium, calcium and magnesium supplements if muscle cramps have become a chronic problem. These minerals help balance the electrolytes in muscle cells for optimum function and will prevent muscle cramps.

Stretch muscles especially before bedtime to prevent night muscle cramps. It's hard to remember to contract the opposing muscle group for instant charley horse relief when you're not fully awake, making prevention the way to go for nocturnal leg cramps.

  1. Massaging muscles before they have a chance to spasm is also a good way to prevent muscle spasms. Working out especially hard or spending a lot of time in the garden can cause muscle cramps, but massage can stop muscle cramps before they start. For the legs, take your knuckles and vigorously massage the muscles. The muscles of the legs can be tender so expect some discomfort and moderate the force of the massage to your tolerance. For the arms and back, have another person give you a good massage to release tension that can cause muscle cramps.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check with a doctor or pharmacist before taking supplements as some supplements can interact with certain medical conditions or prescription medications.

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