Muscle cramps: A sudden and involuntary contraction that occurs in various muscles. (Those extremely discomforting and painful occurrences that we experience when our muscles, quite literally, spaz-out!)
Muscle contractions are what allows us to move. Without our muscles constantly contracting and relaxing, we’d be paralysed. This is to say, that normally, one or more of our muscles is always contracting and/or relaxing. However, when we experience a cramp, it’s an abnormal contraction. Muscle cramps can be brought on by quite a few different conditions and activities, affecting people of all ages. So, you’re not a special snowflake if you get one, and it’s usually not a cause for concern. However, it is an indication that something is imbalanced within your body.
Muscle Cramps – the causes:
- A change in environment (weather/temperature conditions)
- Electrolyte imbalance (common in pregnancy as the growing baby leaches minerals from the Mother)
- Muscle overuse
- Use of certain medications
Muscle Cramps – the remedies:
- Hydrate yourself and replenish electrolytes (Natural mineral water or sports drinks such as Gatorade are good for this.)
- Maintain a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and protein.
- Muscle stretching. Practice yoga for 30-40 minutes a day as part of your self-care routine. (This is not only to help the muscles, but also de-stress your mind.)
- Massage the area(s) which are cramping. (Get someone else to do it if you’re lucky enough to have a helping hand available.)
- Apply warmth to affected area to encourage immediate muscle relaxation.
The lower leg (calves) and feet, are the most common (and debatably most painful) areas where we can experience cramping. If you’re one to suffer from these muscle cramps, implementing specific stretches can greatly reduce and even cure the cramping. These days, there’s no better way to do-it-yourself, than by learning from a video tutorial. Fight Master Yoga’s YouTube channel has kindly shared their wonderful routine for ‘tired legs and sore feet.’ Something I’m sure we can all relate to.
The video takes you through the paces from starting pose to finishing pose, and gives you access to your own personal yoga-master to motivate you from your own home. The routine is just under 15 minutes so it’s do-able for the busiest of us!
Another common problem area when we’re talking of muscle cramps, is the back. Particularly the lower back where sciatic nerve related issues come into play. “Think more about releasing the tension, than stretching the muscle. It’s not so much about how far you’re stretching, but how the muscle is relaxing into the stretch.” These are wise words from another great yogi teacher, who, in this next video, aims her routine at reducing painful muscle tension in the back.
Provided by hugely popular YouTube channel: Yoga XT
I couldn’t not include a specialised hand and wrist routine for all of us suffering carpel tunnel, hand cramps or general wrist pain. Though maintaining suppleness and flexibility in our hands and wrists is important for all, it’s especially important for those using and abusing these muscles and joints. That means IT people, or anyone working/spending long hours typing and clicking at a computer.
Other jobs or hobbies that can get you into trouble include: Musicians, beauticians, tattoo artists, massage therapists, surgeons, people addicted to knitting! And any other activity that requires long periods of time involving intricate, repetitive finger and wrist movements.
Do You Yoga has a simple, effective routine which can be completed in under a quarter of an hour. A peppy Erin Motz takes us step-by-step through these stretches and she even has a cool self-massage move right at the end that you don’t want to miss! Namaste, and take care of those wrists.
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