Not Understanding Muscle Cramps Makes Me Grumpy
What Are Muscle Cramps?
Understanding muscle cramps becomes important to me every time I get them. When they happen, my first thoughts are always the same: Why do my muscles cramp at odd times? Is it because my body is getting older? Am I negligent and not giving it something it needs, and, Is this Nature’s way of reminding me, chiding me, to take more notice of my health?
What I do understand is that muscle cramps in my toes really hurt. The first time it happened to me, years ago, was a frightening experience.
My first muscle cramps
I was pedaling my bicycle on the road where our house was located in a suburb of New Brunswick, New Jersey. The sun was high in a blue sky, and the day’s temperature was only slightly warm. I was happy and carefree… until it happened: Two of the toes on my left foot seized up.
It hurt like heck! I didn’t understand what was happening. I was scared.
I got off my bike and dropped it to the ground. By this time tears were falling down my nine-year-old cheeks as I untied the laces and tore off my left sneaker, grabbing my sock and pulling it off my foot.
Horrified, I stared at my two middle toes on my left foot, which looked like the letter “S” where they had moments earlier been nice and straight. I couldn’t get the toes straightened out, or stop the pain!
Desperately, I hopped into the house, which fortunately was nearby. My crying caught the attention of my family members, including one of my uncles, who immediately took hold of my toes and put pressure on them which, of course, straightened them out and stopped the discomfort. He then explained to me what had happened, and I felt a bit better. I wondered the rest of the day when these muscle cramps might happen again.
Lightning strikes again
Fast-forward about 57 years. I’m lying on my couch, watching television, feeling pretty satisfied and happy about my day and… BOOM!… my toes cramp again.
My initial thoughts flew straight back to that afternoon when I was nine, and my uncle helped me. This time I reached down and pressed my toes and massaged them until they relaxed. I was better faster this time, but I wondered why my muscles had cramped up seemingly out of the blue? And at such a quiet time, too.
Here’s what the U.S. National Library of Medicine tells us about muscle cramps:
“Muscle cramps are sudden, involuntary contractions or spasms in one or more of your muscles. They often occur after exercise or at night, lasting a few seconds to several minutes. It is a very common muscle problem. Muscle cramps can be caused by nerves that malfunction. Sometimes this malfunction is due to a health problem, such as a spinal cord injury or a pinched nerve in the neck or back. Other causes are
Straining or overusing a muscle
A lack of minerals in your diet or the depletion of minerals in your body
Not enough blood getting to your musclesCramps can be very painful. Stretching or gently massaging the muscle can relieve this pain.”
I have to admit, that’s a pretty comprehensive explanation for muscle cramps.
Age or something else
Since that couch incident, I’ve noticed that I get muscle cramps more frequently as my body ages, or so it seems to me. I researched more answers.
MedicineNet.com online brought the following to my attention:
“A muscle cramp is an involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax.
Almost everyone experiences a muscle cramp at some time in their life.
There are a variety of types and causes of muscle cramps.
Numerous medicines can cause muscle cramps.
Most muscle cramps can be stopped if the muscle can be stretched.
Muscle cramps can often be prevented by measures such as adequate nutrition and hydration, attention to safety when exercising, and attention to ergonomic factors.“
More good stuff. That last data works best for me, because I can improve my dietary intake and drink more water.
My personal remedy
A remedy for muscle cramps took shape in my mind after reading both references. (I’ve underlined the parts above that led me to it.) It appeared that more water (hydration) and more minerals in my body’s bloodstream and muscle cells would help prevent repetitive muscle cramps.
With the knowledge I gained from the data that I had just read and a good massage of my cramped muscles, I felt much better. I went to bed that night, thinking I would rest easy.
I had noticed also that my feet had felt cold when they cramped, so I put on a pair of socks and kept them on under the covers. My arsenal of information about cramps, their causes and remedies soothed my fears and my warmed feet. I was ready to sleep through the night.
I fell asleep pretty quickly but awakened early in the morning when an excruciating new set of muscle cramps in my toes, my lower leg calves AND my shins stiffened my lower legs like boards!
I mean, that really HURT!
If relaxing my toes was a matter of just pressing them, the shin splint and calve muscle seizures were another story. They seemed at odds with each other. How was I going to stretch one set if it made the other set worse, which it did in both legs at once?
Did I tell you already that I was in SEVERE PAIN?
Quickly, I ran through the remedies I had just read about hydration and minerals. I formulated a plan to get both into my body as quickly as possible.
As long as I could hobble my way to the kitchen, I knew I would find both there in the form of some liquid minerals we had in the refrigerator.
Painfully, I arrived in the kitchen and first drank a glass of water from our distiller, mixed with a capful of liquid minerals — step one, done!
Next, I put heat under the kettle to boil some water. Waiting for the kettle’s whistle, I put a heaping teaspoon of Instant CalMag-C in a mug. (You see, I already knew its soothing benefits of calcium gluconate and magnesium carbonate combined with Vitamin C would bring fast relief.)
Once the water boiled, I mixed the two ingredients and watched them fizz up, which sound had a soothing effect that took my attention off the painful splints and cramps on which I was half-standing. (Too painful to touch or put full weight on, I half-leaned over the kitchen island counter.)
I cooled the mixture with more distilled water, drank the concoction and waited. Within minutes, my cramps went away!
I was once again a happy, sleepy, camper on my way back to the bedroom and the warm comfort of my place under my covers. I slept like a baby the rest of the night.
The moral of my story
My dilemma and then my happy ending led to understanding muscle cramps better, and to two pieces of data important for everyone running a human body:
you need to stay hydrated — drink more water daily than you do now;
you need sufficient daily intake of minerals to decrease the likelihood of painful muscle cramps or shin splints.
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“I was having severe leg-cramps in bed almost every night…and I mean SEVERE!!! But, I had enuff sense to avoid the drug-dispensing allopathic doctors. I had tried a variety of “do-it-yourself” “treatments” but the almost-nitely misery continued.
“Then…I heard about Calmag-C…visited the site..and read so many ravings from so many people about how helpful it was for them, that I was really curious as to whether it could end my misery. Lo and behold…the cramps totally stopped after the 2nd day of dosages. I was amazed! It DEFINITELY did the job. So…I’ve decided to keep plenty of Calmag-C on-hand as a part of my nutritional regimen…and…consequently…haven’t had any more leg-cramps in years! Calmag-C – my Magic-Elixir!!!”
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Disclaimer: As usual, the information in this blog post is for educational purposes only. We do not diagnose or handle individual health situations. We are not medical professionals. We do recommend that you consult with your preferred medical or nutritional professional when it comes to matters of your personal health.
© 2014 by Ronald Joseph Kule and Desiree Lotz. All Rights Reserved.