Muscle spasm or cramp as you may call it is defined as sudden, instinctive, and usually severe muscle contraction. Muscles Cramps are temporary, but for some people, they are recurring. Though muscle cramp rarely damages the muscle permanently, but still it can be painful, and the intensity of such pain could range from mild to excruciating. It depends on the severity of the condition whether the pain lingers for few hours or few days. But the important to ask is, what you can do to relieve your pain if unluckily you get a muscle cramp?
Cramps usually only last for a short time – typically less than a minute. But sometimes, the pain can last for up to 10 minutes. And your muscle can feel tender for up to 24 hours afterward. The cramp may happen again if you carry on your exercising and don't allow the muscle time to recover.
Source: Exercise-Induced Cramp
This blog is all about the nagging muscle pain due to the cramp and what are the ideal options to treat it. But at the same time, I want to make it clear that I will only address cramp that is not of severe condition, which you can alleviate or avoid on your own.
Some Common Causes of Muscle Cramps
Exercise-Induced: It's a most common cause in runners and active individuals who may have a hardcore workout routine. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances are usually blamed for the cramping of muscles during or after exercise, but it's more like a sports beverage industry gimmick. Overexertion and pushing the muscles harder and more than they can take is responsible for muscle spasms. It definitely is one of the overwhelming causes, which is often being denied by the athletes. Why? Because they think they trained adequately for the sporting event, but they were not. Or at least they don't want to acknowledge it. Still, exercise-induced cramp is the actual concept, and there are pretty good chances that it can happen to anyone who might overexert during a workout session.
If you are interested to know more about it, read the article “exercise-induced cramp”.
Sustained Immobility: Our muscle tissues stay healthy in movement and our static postures only affect them negatively. Over time, the state of immovability leads to cramps and pain. Think about all the poor postures that you may find yourself guilty of doing. Such as a slouched spine when you are watching TV or working on your computer, or bent knees while you are driving a car for too long. Bad postures restrict the free flow of blood to other body parts, which means your muscles don't get adequate oxygen supply to function normally. And that’s how it becomes a possible cause of a muscle cramp.
Insufficient Blood Flow: Talking about blood flow, let’s take it as another reason behind muscle spasms. Other than poor posture, vascular occlusion results in muscle cramps in the lower legs. Our muscles require blood, nutrients, and oxygen to perform day-to-day activities healthily. If you are suffering from peripheral vascular disease, in which the arteries do not supply an ample amount of blood, which results in cramps and pain. Though it diminishes after taking a rest for a while.
Restless Leg Syndrome: Though it is not precisely related to the muscle cramp, it is often labelled as such. This syndrome is defined as an uncomfortable sensation in the legs which urges one to move his legs to get rid of the sensations. Apart from cramping, the sensation one might feel includes itchiness, needles like or the feeling of crawling. These symptoms are believed to be worse while sitting or lying down.
These are just a few of the causes I've discussed here, there are many other reasons from medical to other underlying issues that can be accountable for muscle cramps.
Moving forward, let's discuss how a simple yoga accessory like a foam roller can help alleviate muscle cramps?
Foam Roller for Muscles
A foam roller is handy yoga equipment that comes with a self-myofascial release technique. It helps in relieving muscle soreness, inflammation as well as increasing the range of motion in your joints.
To avoid muscle cramps, this tool can be highly efficient to use for warm-up or cool-down with your workout sessions. Let's see how this amazing piece of equipment can help you deal with obnoxious muscle cramps.
It Eases the Muscle Pain
Exercise-induced muscle cramps can be painful, and we know just the right way to relieve the muscle pain with the help of a foam roller.
Foam roller benefit in this aspect was proved with a small study that was conducted on a small group of people. For the purpose of the study, physically active men after exercise used a foam roller on their muscles for 20 minutes, and also after 24 and 48 hours of exercise.
The group noticed a decrease in their muscle soreness in comparison to their experienced when they didn't foam rolled after exercise.
When you don't experience uncomfortable muscle soreness, it leads you to do your workout more efficiently.
It Enhances Range of Motion
For better and ongoing flexibility, our body needs a range of motion in our joints. It is believed that foam roller may assist in enhancing this vital range of motion, but more data and research is required in this area to prove this notion.
Researchers picked evidence from a small group of 11 athletes that a mix of foam rolling and static stretching was highly effective in enhancing the range of motion. Though, we still need more research including a diverse group of people to fully grasp the link of foam rolling with the range of motion.
For desired results, it's better if you use a foam roller after your workout sessions to keep your muscles healthy and loose.
Is Foam Roller a Safe Fitness Equipment to Use?
Yes, absolutely. A foam roller is considered great to use if you experience muscle soreness or cramps after exercise. Like it has been said earlier, an extensive workout routine also results in muscle cramps sometimes, for which foam rolling can work wonders.
But the effectiveness of foam rolling varies from person to person. As mentioned before, if you have a serious condition like a muscle tear or break, then immediately consult a physician. Avoid using a foam roller in this condition unless your physician clears you to use it.
Also, avoid using a foam roller on small joints like ankles, knees, or elbows, which you can overextend unknowingly or may damage. Instead, it is more appropriate that while foam rolling your legs, roll out the calves' region first and then go towards quads, avoiding your knees.
Furthermore, foam rolling may assist in relieving tension during pregnancy. But first, get permission from your doctor, and don't lay back for foam rolling later in your pregnancy. In the third trimester, you should also avoid rolling out your calves. This may lead to premature labor. That's why it's important to consult your doctor before trying foam rolling.
New to Foam Rolling? Here’s How to Start?
It's okay if you have never tried foam rolling for your aching muscles. You just have to know the basics, and you are good to go. You can find great content on YouTube, especially for beginners on 'how to start' foam rolling safely on different body parts. And if you are a gym-goer, then you can ask your trainer to walk you through the use of this muscle-friendly equipment. Foam rolling classes are another option for you if you want to learn the proper use of foam rollers.
Overall, there are general tips for you to follow to start foam rolling right away.
- Start with gentle pressure and gradually increase it once your body gets used to it. If your muscles are tight, then you may find it uncomfortable or painful in the beginning. For adjusting the pressure, lessen the volume of bodyweight you're exerting on the foam roller. To simplify this, when you are rolling out the calf region, it is a good idea to use your arms to support your body weight. This will take off some of your body weight away from the roller.
- Gently roll the sore body parts with 10 seconds, and eventually, take it to 30 or 60 seconds.
- Drink a lot of water after foam rolling as it will help in recovering from the muscle cramps overall.
If you are interested to know more tips, you can read 8 foam rolling moves to know more about it.
Muscle cramps are basically your muscle crying for help, and the condition, although short-lived, can make you cranky. There are several causes involved behind a muscle cramp, but still, the list is not long enough. To address this painful situation, foam rolling is your go-to remedy. It will give your muscles much-needed relief, and you'll definitely feel less sore by using it after a strenuous workout routine.
We advise you to consult a physician before trying any new tool to stay at a safe end. If you want to place your order, Xn8 Sports is one of the reliable stores that are manufacturing premium quality products to keep their customers satisfied and pain-free.