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September 1st, 2017

Oh Cramp! I Got a Spasm!

by Kaity Mclenithan, ATC

Differences Between Muscles Cramps, Spasms, and Soreness

Who has ever woken up in the middle of the night with the dreaded charlie horse cramp in their calf?? We have all heard about it but have you ever wondered why it happens? Listed below are the differences between a muscle cramp, muscle spasm and muscle soreness and how to help deal with and prevent them.

A muscle cramp is an involuntary muscle contraction. Meaning that the muscles fires without your control, and usually lasts for a short period of time.  There are many possible causes for muscles cramps such as: dehydration, electrolyte loss/imbalance, loss of sodium, low levels of magnesium, muscle fatigue, and lack of oxygen.

A muscle spasm is a reflex to something else that is going on in the body or trauma. There are two types of spasms that can take place: clonic and tonic. Clonic is an involuntary contraction that alternates between contraction and relaxation. Tonic is a hard, constant muscle contraction that lasts for a span of time. Muscle spasms can also cause muscle strains.

Muscle soreness is pain caused by overexertion from physical activity. This most commonly happens when people try something new in their exercise routine/new activity or try a new class.  Unfortunately, the older people get the more often this tends to happen. There are two types of soreness acute and delayed-onset.

Acute muscle soreness happens when the muscle is fatigued.  This can happen during or directly after exercise. Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) occurs 24 to 48 hours after exercise, and usually subsides 3-4 days later.  DOMS can be characterized by increased muscle tension, stiffness and the muscle being resistant to stretching. Possible causes of this can be small tears in the muscle and disruption of the connective tissue of muscle tendon fibers.

 

How To Prevent DOMS

  1. Start with an exercise routine of moderate activity and intensity, and then gradually increasing activity and intensity.
  2. Stay Hydrated. It is imperative to drink water throughout the day, and not just pre and post workout.  Your body will thank you.
  3. Be consistent with your stretching, foam rolling and lacrosse ball.  These increase blood flow to your muscles, decrease knots and trigger points and help prevent lactic acid build up.
  4. Add Branch Chain Amino Acids during and after your workout.  BCAA’s are great to add to your water bottle to improve athletic performance, aid in muscle recovery as well as help preserve lean muscle mass.
  5. Supplement with Magnesium.  Magnesium will help with leg cramps as well as soreness.

 

Making sure you are not depleted in certain minerals such as magnesium and potassium is important as mentioned above. Even with all of the foods we consume throughout the day we still may need a little help. Magnesium helps to relax the muscles and decrease the risk of them cramping as well as other health benefits including relieving constipation! If the muscle seems to not want to relax then you may find other techniques such as massage therapy or graston therapy may help.

If you are having muscle issues and is not sure what can be done, call the office for your FREE consultation at 847-362-4476. Mention this blog to receive 15% off a foam roller or Tiger Tail and also 20% off our magnesium or BCAA supplement today!

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