Muscle Cramps: Causes, Symptoms & Effective Treatments
6 Minute Read

Muscle Cramps: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments

HealthyStripe's Editorial Team
19 September 2022

Have you recently started working out and facing a lot of muscle cramps in your body? Don’t worry! We have everything summed up in this article for you to ease up your post-workout cramps. But First, let us start by understanding what exactly it is. 

What are muscle cramps?

A muscle cramp is a very strong and painful contraction of a particular muscle or a group that comes on suddenly and lasts from a few seconds to several minutes. It often occurs in the legs. A muscle cramp is also called a charley horse.

Cramps usually occur at the end of high-intensity workouts or during endurance events because fatigued muscles are more likely to cramp easily. 

Nighttime leg cramps are usually sudden spasms, or tightening, of muscles in the calf which is very common. The muscle cramps can sometimes happen in the thigh or the foot muscle too. They often occur just as you are falling asleep or waking up from a sound sleep.

Common symptoms of muscle cramps?

Cramps in the leg area are quite common, especially in the calf muscle. Besides the sudden pain, you might also feel or see a hard lump of muscle tissue beneath your skin. 

Some of the common symptoms which need to be taken care of include:

  • Leg swelling, redness, or skin changes.
  • Acute muscle weakness.
  • Joint pain
  • Severe pain in the calf muscles after the workout.
  • Consult a doctor if it does not get better with stretching and drinking enough fluids.

What causes muscle cramps all over the body?

The cause of muscle cramps isn’t always known and obvious. Muscle cramps can occur by many conditions or activities, such as:

  • Exercising, injury, or overuse of muscles while working out or doing essential daily chores.
  • Pregnancy Cramps may occur because of decreased amounts of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, especially in the later months of pregnancy.
  • Exposure to cold temperatures, especially to extremely cold water.
  • Other medical conditions, such as blood flow problems (peripheral arterial disease), kidney disease, thyroid disease, and multiple sclerosis.
  • In fact, standing on a hard surface for a long time, sitting for a long time, or irregular posture while you sleep.
  • Low levels of potassium, calcium, and other minerals in your blood.
  • Being dehydrated, which means that your body has lost too much fluid.
  • Taking certain medicines, such as birth control pills, diuretics, and steroids can also lead to cramping in the body.

How to stop muscle cramps fast and easy way out?

  • Stretch and massage the muscle: When there is a sudden muscle cramp, you should stop doing the activity that’s causing it and stretch it out. This will provide you with soothing and instant relief from muscle cramps. Also, always keep in mind that it’s important to stretch before and after you exercise, as well.
  • Massage the muscle: You can gently massage the affected muscle to relieve pain. Use a roller or simply your hands and gently massage them to loosen the tighten muscles.
  • Go for a warm shower or bath to relax the muscle: A heating pad placed on the muscle can also help to relax your muscle cramps.
  • Try using an ice or cold pack: Ensure that you keep a cloth between your skin and the ice pack.
  • If your doctor prescribes medicines: For muscle cramps, take them exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you face any problems.
  • Drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated
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Related: Know which is the best water to drink for optimal hydration?

Foods that cause leg cramps:

It’s very common saying that certain foods significantly cause inflammation in the body that contributes in alleviating leg cramping. What do you think can be the reason behind this?

Well! Inflammation can affect the inflammatory markers in the blood, particularly C-reactive protein. In turn, the resulting inflammation causes a strain on the joints.

To reduce inflammation, avoid eating these foods.

  • Refined carbohydrates like bread, and pasta are devoid of essential nutrients.
  • Excessive red meat consumption is bad due to nitrates present in them.
  • Fast food is full of trans fats, so it is better to avoid them.
  • Foods with refined sugar such as packaged pastries are full of artificial ingredients.
  • Salty foods can wreak havoc on the body and eventually cramps in the body.

There are also Foods That Can Kill Your Stamina And Endurance. Read Now. 

How to stop leg cramps immediately?

There are a number of ways you can get relief from nighttime leg cramps. Once leg cramps set in, the best method to relieve them is movement, either walking around or simply jiggling or shaking your leg. 

Along with this, things like pumping your ankles up and down or rubbing the muscles can help as well.

Certain people with chronic leg cramps have found relief using cool compresses, which work by numbing pain and reducing muscle soreness.

But anyone who regularly suffers from severe leg cramps should also work on strengthening their muscles, which will make cramps less frequent.

5 ways to treat muscle cramps in the right way!

  1. Train appropriately.
  2. Acclimate yourself to the environment.
  3. Consume the right amount of fluids for your body to prevent dehydration.
  4. One should go for salty foods or sodium-rich sports products before, during and after exercise.
  5. You should prevent carbohydrate depletion by consuming carbohydrates before your workout and during your workout if it is longer than 60 to 90 minutes.


Well! Muscle spasms and especially leg cramps are very common these days. While we sit in the same posture all day watching television or sleep on the couch after a long and tiring day, it is going to happen!

What do you think must be the treatment for this? Starting from the body posture, to stretching out effectively before beginning your intense workouts, and of course, certain diet regulations go a long way.

Another way to stop cramps is to stretch or massage your muscles and to eat enough of these important nutrients namely, potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Don’t forget to keep yourself well hydrated.

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