Home Remedy Treatments for Muscle Pain
Cramps that occur during the night are usually due to a pinched nerve or an exaggeration of a normal muscle-tendon reflex. A particular sleep position, for example, may cause a nerve to be compressed. Or, in changing positions, you may contract a muscle, causing an attached tendon to stretch. The stretched tendon sends a message to the spinal cord, which, in turn, sends a message to the muscle, causing it to contract even more forcefully and resulting in a cramp. No matter what the cause of the cramping, the bottom line is that muscles that cramp at night have somehow gotten "stuck." The key is to short-circuit this cramping before it happens and disturbs your rest. Here's how:
- Stretch before bed. Take a few minutes before retiring to stretch the muscles that are subject to cramping. Calves are often culprits of nighttime cramping. Stretch them out with the "runner's stretch": Stand facing a wall, your feet positioned two to three feet away from it. Place your palms on the wall at about shoulder height. Keeping your legs straight and your heels pressed against the floor, slowly bend your elbows and lean your upper body toward the wall until you feel a stretch in your calves. Hold for a count of eight, then return to the starting position.
- Be sure you get enough calcium. Nighttime cramps are often associated with a lack of calcium in the diet. Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods like broccoli, spinach, and dairy products (opt for low-fat or fat-free varieties if you're trying to limit your fat or calorie intake). If cramping is still a problem, talk to your doctor about using a calcium supplement.
- Lighten the load. Sometimes, cramps in the legs and feet can be caused by a pile of heavy blankets. Toss off all those covers and try either an electric blanket set on "warm" or a lightweight down comforter.
- Massage the muscle. If you develop a cramp despite using prevention tips, massage the cramped muscle with long strokes toward the heart. Or do so even before you turn off the light for the night; sometimes a massage before you go to sleep can keep those muscles loose and free of cramps until morning.
Home Remedies From the Cupboard
Epsom salts. Jump in a hot bath with Epsom salts to ease the pain of your strain (but wait at least 24 hours before you try this). Epsom salts contain loads of magnesium that is absorbed through the skin. Magnesium helps promote the healing of torn muscles. Add 2 cups Epsom salts to a tub of hot water. It also relieves any swelling.
Banana. Eat a banana or two a day, and you may cut down your cramping. That's because a potassium deficiency may be to blame for muscle cramps. Though there's no official recommendation for how much potassium you should have per day, the American Dietetic Association suggests adults get about 2,000 mg a day. One banana has 450 mg of the muscle-protecting nutrient.
Home Remedies From the Refrigerator
Water. Yes, it's the elixir of life as well as your best bet for avoiding a painful muscle cramp while you exercise. When you exercise, you sweat. That sweat depletes your body of needed fluids that can cause your muscles to mutiny. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after you do your activity of choice. If you're running, aim to drink about a cup per hour. Don't overdo it, however, because drinking too much water can cause a dangerous imbalance in the body's mineral stores.
Home Remedies From the Spice Rack