Muscle cramps, why do they get stinging so suddenly? Causes and natural remedies

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Elia Tabuenca García
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Cramps come suddenly during sleep or exercise, but why? What to do and how to prevent them

Don't store avocado like this: it's dangerous


Cramps come suddenly during sleep or exercise, but why? What to do and how to prevent them

Many will have woken up in the middle of the night due to a painful muscle stiffening. These are cramps, which lead to sudden contraction of the muscles and, consequently, to a feeling of stiffness and stiffness. They only last a few minutes, but they can be very annoying. Here are the causes of this disorder, and what can be done to prevent it.

What is a cramp?

I cramps they are nothing more than momentary muscle stiffeners that mainly involve arms and legs and that can bring pain but also the inability to move the muscle for a few minutes. They often recur during the night and are due to the fact that during sleep we hold the same position for a long period of time - which causes the muscle to contract in a cramp. During the day, in fact, moving around helps to keep the blood flow constant in the muscles and avoid annoying cramps. Cramps wake many people up during the night, but luckily their effects wear off quickly: they don't last more than ten minutes - although it's not uncommon to feel sore the next morning. (Read also: Cramps: foods and natural remedies to relieve and prevent them)

Causes of cramps

Among the causes of this annoying problem we include:

  • Dehydration: sweating too much and not rehydrating lost fluids with an adequate amount of water causes our body to lose mineral salts, which help the functioning of the muscles; moreover, mineral salts help to control nocturnal muscle contractions. As a result, not hydrating your body can lead to cramps more often.
  • Low temperatures: When sleeping in a cold room, too low a temperature can cause the muscles to contract. For this it is important to cover well at night - especially the legs.
  • Immobility: staying still for many hours in the same position can cause cramps. This is true both when you sleep at night, but also during the day if you spend many hours sitting in front of a PC or standing - especially if you do not compensate afterwards with adequate stretching exercises. Women who wear heels are particularly prone to cramps, as these shoes place enormous strain on the feet, legs and spine.

Sitting for too long (for example in front of the computer) can cause annoying cramps (@ chatsimo /

  • Exercise without stretching: It is one of the most common mistakes in the gym - exercising without a good set of stretching exercises before and after the workout. Muscles need time to recover after an intense session of physical activity, and doing muscle stretching and relaxation exercises avoids pain and cramps.
  • Poor blood supply to the muscles: Narrowing of the arteries that carry blood to the legs (due to conditions such as atherosclerosis of the extremities) can produce leg and foot cramps during exercise. These complaints generally go away at the end of the workout.
  • Compression of the nerves: Compression of the nerves in the spine (lumbar stenosis) can cause painful leg cramps, which increase as you walk. In this case, walking with the torso slightly bent forward, as if pushing a shopping cart in front of you, can improve the course of symptoms.

There are also risk factors that can affect the onset of cramps - such as age, diabetes, liver or thyroid disease, pregnancy.

What to do in case of sudden cramps and pangs

As already mentioned, the discomfort caused by cramps disappears by itself after a few minutes, without the need to take drugs or to be examined by a doctor. However, as the orthopedist also advises, there are some useful measures to relieve the discomfort:

  • Rest: stop doing any activity that triggered the cramp;
  • Moderate stretching: Gently stretch and massage the muscle with the cramp, holding it in a stretched position until the cramp stops. In particular, in the case of calf cramps, someone can be asked to help us keep the affected leg raised, pushing on the heel, and in the meantime flex the toes forward thus releasing the muscle; if you are alone, on the other hand, you can put your toe on a shelf and bend your knee forward. These are simple stretching techniques which, however, can make a great contribution in relieving muscle tension;
  • Thermal shock: Apply heat to tense and contracted muscles, or ice to painful and relaxed muscles.

How to prevent cramps

Fortunately, there are many natural remedies to prevent muscle cramps. These are small tricks that can make a huge difference to our well-being:

  • Take a hot shower: Before training or if you feel particularly stiff, taking a nice shower with warm water will help your muscles relax and unwind. In fact, the heat of the water helps to relieve the body and prevent the appearance of night cramps.
  • Drink the preservative juice of the pickles: it is an old 'grandmother's remedy' known and successfully used by many people. In fact, however, there is scientific evidence behind the remedy: the juice of the pickles contains a lot of salt, which is necessary to maintain the proper functioning of the muscles - this explains the effectiveness of the remedy.

    Pickle storage liquid is great for preventing muscle cramps (@ monticello /

  • Eat a banana: Muscle cramps can also result from low levels of potassium, and the banana is the fruit with the highest concentration of this element. It would therefore be advisable to always carry a banana in the gym bag, to replenish the precious mineral after training.
  • Fare stretching (not only in correspondence with the training). The ideal would be to establish a stretching routine to be performed every night before going to bed, to avoid the risk of running into annoying cramps that can disturb sleep. These are simple and light exercises, lasting a few minutes, to be practiced directly in bed and with pajamas: they will allow not only to relax the muscles from the tension accumulated during the day, but also to relax the mind and get into the right state of mind to rest at best. A great sleep is guaranteed!

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