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Common Causes of Muscle Cramps & How to Avoid Them

Common Causes of Muscle Cramps & How to Avoid Them

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Dehydration

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The human body is made of approximately 60% water content with muscle tissue being close to 80% water content. Being sick with resulting vomiting or loose stool can quickly deplete the body of its required water reserves. In addition, working in the heat or exerting yourself through a hard work day can also result in a depleted water content within the body. It is recommended that each person consume approximately ½ gallon of water daily. An easy way to calculate that amount is the 8 x 8 Rule. Try to consume 8, 8 ounce glasses of water daily.

Injury/Overuse

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As a protective response, the muscle tissue will “protect” and immobilize the area. We see a lot of muscle cramps with endurance athletes and weekend warriors playing multiple sports events in a day. It is important to stretch the involved muscle and hold for at least 15 seconds. It may also help to squeeze the muscle while stretching to get the muscle to relax. Ice application for 15 minutes hourly may also help subside the cramping.

Mineral Imbalances

Both the muscles and nerves are dependent upon specific minerals (Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium) to allow for normal nerve conduction and muscle contraction. If those minerals are deficient, or imbalanced, it may be a cause to frequent spasming. Generally, your daily requirement (provided in both your food intake and supplements) for those minerals is as follows:

  • Calcium=1000-1500mg
  • Magnesium=400mg
  • Potassium=3500mg
  • Sodium=1500-<2300mg

Nerve Conditions

If the nerve is affected by an injury like a stroke, herniated disc, etc. it can get hyperexcited and result in muscle cramping. There are some medications like Gabapentin or Cymbalta that act as nerve membrane stabilizers. They alter the minerals within the nerve to reduce the ability of the nerve to stimulate a muscle response. Your medical doctor would need to evaluate your condition and prescribe those medications. Repetitive exercise/stretching could be used to manage the cramps.

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Medication Side Effects

Some medications that control blood pressure or cholesterol have been known to dehydrate and require more water intake. Following the 8 x 8 Rule could reduce associated muscle cramping.

Dr. Custer is the owner/operator of Better Care Chiropractic and Physical Therapy clinics. Our goal is to promote a rapid and full recovery for each patient. Dr. Custer combines his 15 plus years of experience in injury rehabilitation (as an athletic trainer) with his chiropractic education to promote a fast and efficient recovery process.

If you have questions/comments/suggestions, please feel free to contact Dr. Custer at [email protected].

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