Muscles Cramps (nas pe nas chadna):
Muscles cramps or muscle spasms (nas pe nas chadna) refer to painful spasmodic contraction of muscles in the limb. Almost all the people between the age of 15 to 80 suffer from cramps in legs at some or the other stage in their lives. These muscle cramps are usually harmless and ceases after few minutes. These cramps often occur at the night and are quite distressing. These cramps may occur in any of the muscles in the body. However, they are more common in the calf of legs and feet because muscles of these parts of body are more easily strained. They may also occur in the abdominal wall, arms, hands and feet.
Most common symptoms of the muscle cramps are mysterious pain and stiffness. Most leg cramps occur suddenly with tingling and twitching of muscles. Severe cramps can also be accompanied with swelling and soreness and may require massage and rest for recovery. During the cramp, it may not be possible to move your leg as well. Post the cramp, the leg muscle may feel tender to the touch.
In most of the cases, causes of muscle cramp remain unknown. (1) Actually, these cramps are generally harmless and can be ignored. But if it recurs constantly, causes pain and discomfort, it is advisable to consult with a doctor. (1)
Muscle cramps are usually caused by dietary deficiency of vitamins and minerals, particularly of Vitamin D, calcium, Potassium, magnesium and B6. Dehydration is supposed to be the main cause of muscle cramps, especially in exercise associated muscle cramps. (2)
Another cause of cramps may be some medical condition like- diabetes, thyroid disorder, liver or nerve related problem, uraemia, and peripheral vascular disease. Old age is also a major cause of muscle cramps because in old age, people lose muscle mass, therefore get over stressed easily. Some other causes are overuse of muscles, mental stress, nervous irritability, pregnancy, menstrual cycle and menopausal disorders. Side effects of medication such as- statins and furosemide- may also cause cramps.
Muscle cramps usually are a temporary nuisance and typically resolve on their own. Normally, there is no need of medicines to treat an ordinary muscle cramp; you can treat it with self care measures such as – proper diet, exercise etc. You can try these measures to speed up the recovery, lessen the discomfort and to control future recurrence.
Instant Remedies to Cure Muscle Cramps:
- Whenever you face the muscle cramp, at first, stretch the affected muscle and gently rub it.
- Or simply stand up by putting weight on your cramped leg and bend your knee slightly.
- If you’re unable to stand, sit on the floor or in a chair and stretch your cramped leg forward.
- If the cramp is occurred while sleeping on bed, just turn over on your back and point your toe towards ceiling. It will help to relieve the cramp, if it does not work, try to stand up on your feet.
- Then, put your foot into a hot water tub to subside the cramp. Or simply apply a heating pad on stiff muscles.
- Ice massage on affected muscle is also effective.
Other Remedies for Muscle Cramps:
1. Bananas for Cramps:
Whenever you face cramps (nas pe nas chadna in Hindi), eat bananas to break the clutch of the cramp. Banana (kela) is a potassium rich food and very good to relax the muscle cramp.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar for Cramps:
If possible take apple cider vinegar with honey as an instant remedy to break the clutch of cramp. Apple cider vinegar is rich in potassium and if the cramp is due to potassium deficiency, it will work immediately. Mix 1 tsp each of apple cider vinegar and honey in a glass of warm water and drink.
3. Once the cramp goes away, rotate your leg clockwise and anti-clockwise to relax your muscles.
4. Pickle Juice (Sirka) for Cramps:
The food rich in acetic acid also helps to relax the muscle cramp. Pickle juice (sirka) and mustard water are the best option which are adopted by athletes for years.
Simply, grind some yellow mustard (pili sarso) to make fine powder. Add 1 tsp yellow mustard powder and 2 tsp of honey (shahad) in a glass of water and drink. It is believed that the acetic acid in mustard helps to stimulate the muscles; it helps to produce more acetylcholine in the body and prevents leg cramps.
Likewise, pickle juice (sirka) is also high in acetic acid; you can take it in a similar way to cure leg cramps. It works within a minute or two.
Preventive Remedies for Muscle Cramps:
1. Natural Booster for Cramps:
Muscle cramps can usually be treated by taking nutrients rich diet. If you often face these painful cramps, you should eat a variety of foods with plenty of nutrients, especially calcium and magnesium rich food. Some suggested food are whole grain, nuts, seeds, cereals, leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits and milk products.
Generally, muscle cramps may recur due to the low level of minerals like- potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium in body. Therefore it is necessary to take proper food to maintain level of mineral in your body.
a. Calcium Rich Food:
Calcium is one of the important type of mineral which helps to treat muscle cramps. You should avoid to take supplements of these minerals because taking excess supplements, if you don’t need them, can be harmful. It is better to eat plenty of food which are rich in calcium, such as- vegetables, fruits like apricot, sesame seeds, rice, oats (jai), beans and milk. Millets like- barley (jau), pearl millet (bajra), sorghum (jowar), or various small grained cereal, sesame seeds (til) and almonds (badam) are the best options of calcium rich food.
b. Potassium Rich Food:
Another mineral- potassium, is also helpful to cure cramps, especially in the cases where the cause of the muscle cramps is mental tension and nervous disorders. Most of the fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, nectarines, dried dates (chhuhara), apricots (khubani), raisins (munakka) or grapes, oranges (santara) and cantaloupes (vilayati kharbuja) have a lots of potassium. Therefore, include these foods in your daily diet.
c. Magnesium & Vitamin D Rich Food:
Magnesium and Vitamin D are essential for maintaining normal muscle and nerve function. Muscle cramps may occur due to the deficiency of these two minerals. Old age cramps are good examples of this type of cramps. You can treat them by taking magnesium rich food. High magnesium foods include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yoghurt, bananas, dried fruit, dark chocolate etc.
For vitamin D, sunshine is the best option. Other options are soy milk, white mushrooms, whole milk, cod liver oil, tofu, Swiss cheese etc. Cramps during pregnancy can also be treated by taking magnesium rich food.
d. Vitamin B6 & B12 Rich Food:
Sometimes muscle cramps (nas pe nas chadna) may recur due to the deficiency of Vitamin B6, B12 and E & C. Some women experience cramps during their menstrual cycle or menopause. You can treat these cramps by taking large dose of Vitamin E, B6 and B12.
(Note: Vitamin B6 can be taken up to 50 mg daily for months together without any ill effects. However, it is essential to take vitamin B complex simultaneously while taking Vitamin B-6, because too much of one of the vitamin- B may cause imbalance of other vitamins of B group. Though, it is medically proved but better to consult doctor before taking supplements.)
e. Vitamin E & C Rich Food:
Muscle cramping may also recur due to circulation problem. In that case, use of vitamin C and E are more beneficial for the treatment. Vitamin E helps circulation in legs whereas Vitamin C is important for the absorption of calcium in the body and preventing it from piling in the joints. Those people, who frequently face these painful contractions, can take certain herbs like (Chirayta) and liquorice (mulethi).
2. Drinking Water for Muscle Cramps:
Dehydration is the main cause of muscle cramps. If you are facing this cramping frequently, it is important to ensure that you are drinking enough water throughout the day. Keeping hydrated at all times is the best treatment of muscle cramps. Therefore, drink plenty of water (at least 4-5 liter daily). If you exercise, ensure that you drink water before and after your exercise to replace the fluids lost while sweating. It is good to drink a glass of water daily before going to bed too.
3. Heating Pad for Muscle Cramps:
useful method of relieving muscle cramp is applying heating pad over the affected area. A hot water bottle or electric heating pad could relax and loosen up the muscle.
4. Stay away from Tight Bed covers:
Keep the bed sheets and covers loose. Tight bed covers may cause feet to unconsciously point your toes downward while sleeping and this could result in leg cramps. Those sleeping on their stomach may extend their feet over the edge of the mattress to maintain a neutral position.
5. Massage for Muscle Cramps:
Massaging the cramped area is also beneficial to relax the muscle and subside the pain due to cramps. Simply massage the cramped area with essential oils such as- rosemary, lavender or olive oil.
After the massage, wrap the area in a warm towel for the better results. Simply soak a towel in hot water and squeeze properly and wrap around the affected area.
6. Exercises for Muscle Cramps:
In fact, exercise is the best natural remedy of muscle cramps. By doing regular exercises, especially stretching exercises, you can say goodbye to muscle cramps forever. Stretching your calves before retiring to bed at night can help to ease muscle tension. There are certain exercises which are most effective in relieving muscle cramps.
A. Seated Calf and Hamstring Stretch:
1. Low back and leg exercises help in improving circulation to the extremities. (3)
a. Sit on the floor or a firm bed with both legs extended. Then, keeping your back straight, bend at your hips and stretch forward to grasp your toes or calves, and sit back slowly. Do this stretch three times, holding for 10 seconds each time.
b. With hands locked behind the head, twist slowly to the right to touch the left leg with the right elbow. Return to starting position and twist to the left.
2. Sit on the floor or a firm bed with both legs extended in opposite direction by keeping gap between two ( ‘ L’ shape position). Then, keeping your back straight, bend at your hips and stretch forward to grasp your toes or calves; touch left toe with right hand and right toe with left hand (cross touching). Do this stretch five times each from left hand and right hand.
3. Sitting in the same posture, hold right toe with right hand fingers and stretch rightward to touch the right toe with left hand by holding for 10 seconds. Now change the position; hold your left toe with left hand and stretch leftward to grasp your left toe with right hand by holding for 10 seconds. Repeat this stretch three times each.
B. Knee to Chest:
Lie straight on your back, take deep breath and keeps leg folded, raise one leg straight, hold the position for 3 seconds and bring it down slowly in the original position (keeps the other leg in folded position). Do the same from another leg. Repeat it five times from each leg.
C. Leg Raises:
Lie on your stomach. Raise your one leg as much as you can and hold it up to counting five and bring it down slowly. Do the same cycle with the other leg. Repeat it for five times.