Best Supplements for Muscle Cramps

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What happens when you suffer a muscle cramp?

Most often, people who have experienced them describe it as something intensely painful with tightness and spasm effect. That’s why others are sorting through exercise, food intake, and some were looking for the best supplements for muscle cramps to relieve the pain.

But in general, muscle cramps, also called Charley horses, happen when a muscle contracts involuntarily, and usually very powerfully.

If you’ve ever had a cramp… you already know first-hand how painful and debilitating they are.

There are times that cramps are severe enough that it might hinder you from doing some things.

For instance, it might stop you from finishing your physical activity or might hinder you from winning a competition or achieving your desired performance level.

But it gets worse… While some cramps ease on their own, others are longer-lasting.

A simple palpate (touch) on the parts that have been affected by the muscle cramping, can be painful and hard to bear. And excessively severe muscle cramps may even result in muscle tears, particularly if attempting overly aggressive stretching or manipulation to relieve the cramp.

Yikes! Pretty concerning, isn’t it?

But what if cramps hit you at night? That’s a whole lot of different dilemmas.

So what causes a muscle cramp? What are the things you can do to reduce muscle cramps? And how can you prevent yourself from experiencing such pain?

So… What Causes Muscle Cramps?

Muscle cramps often come unexpectedly! Yet, there are triggers that can bring them on. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Dehydration – A normal body needs an abundant supply of water to function correctly. In fact, about 60% of your body weight is made up of water. If water levels fall too low, cramps are often the result.
  • Overexertion – intense exercise can overload your muscles, leading to muscle cramping. This could be due to a lack of oxygen, the accumulation of lactic acid, or simply pushing yourself beyond your usual limits.
  • Mineral imbalances – minerals help control muscle and nerve function, and low levels of minerals or imbalances can affect how your muscles contract and relax.

  • Sedentarism – if you are used to being active, enforced inactivity can often trigger muscle cramp. A lot of exercisers get cramps after long periods of sitting, such as a car journey, plane flight, or even a Netflix binge.

5 Ways to Reduce Muscle Cramping Naturally!

Let’s be honest.. Cramps can hit you out of the blue, with no apparent reason or warning. It doesn’t matter how fit or well-hydrated you are; sometimes it’s just your turn! (Sad reality).

But the good news is, it doesn’t have to be permanent nor long-lasting. So what should you do to relieve muscle cramps?

  1. Warm Up Properly

As an old coach used to say, if you don’t have time to warm up, you don’t have time to work out.

Warming up prepares your body for the exercise to come and increases blood flow to your muscles. As lack of blood flow may increase your risk of cramping, it only makes sense that warming up properly may reduce your risk of experiencing a painful muscle cramping.

Or else, you’ll experience an exercise induced muscle cramping which is absolutely surprising and devastating towards your health and performance.

2. Hydrate Like a Boss

If you’re prone to muscle cramps, you need to become a hydration master!

Muscle cramp master = hydration master is the key!

If you’re a gym-goer or someone who likes to exercise intensely, especially in hot weather, you need more than the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.

Some people prefer ordinary water, while others suggest taking in hydrogen water that also aids in muscle cramps while increasing the body’s energy levels.

In other words, drink as much as it takes to keep your pee clear and avoid feeling thirsty. Hydrate before, during, and after exercise.

3. Respect your Body’s Need for Rest

It’s not enough to train hard, but you also have to train smart!

If you hammer your muscles every day without rest, you aren’t giving your body the time it needs to recover. This could increase your chances of being struck down by a cramp.

So make sure your workout schedule includes easy workouts as well as days off to allow for recovery. Tired muscles are more prone to cramps.

4. Stretch it Out

Stretching helps relax your muscles and also increases circulation. If you are prone to night cramps, or night tortures as they should be known, spend a few minutes stretching the muscles most prone to cramp before you go to bed.

For most people, that’s the calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

5. Move, move, and move some more

Muscle cramps are often triggered by inactivity. Indeed, too much activity and less activities might result in muscle contraction.

So to avoid this problem, get up and start moving whenever the opportunity arises. For example, get up and walk to the water fountain once an hour at work.

If you can’t get up for a walk, maybe because you are on a plane or stuck in a car, just contract and relax your muscles to keep your blood pumping. Putting these strategies into action should help reduce your chances of getting a muscle cramp.

 

Common Exercise Helped in Reducing Muscle Cramps

Regular exercise offers several health benefits, including reducing the occurrence of muscle cramps. Here are some ways in which exercise can help in reducing muscle cramps:

 Stretching Exercises

Stretching helps to improve your muscle flexibility and reduce the risk of experiencing muscle fatigue and cramps. It also improved blood circulation and enhanced motion performances. Hence, it’s important to do stretching correctly and safely to maximize its benefits.

 Strengthening Exercises

Resistance training exercises, such as weight lifting or bodyweight exercises, can help strengthen muscles, making them less susceptible to cramping. Start by, focusing on exercises that target the specific muscles that tend to cramp, and gradually increase the weight or resistance over time.

 Low-impact Exercises

Compared to other forms of intense cardio and workout, low-impact exercises are activities that are gentle on joints and do not place excessive strain or impact on the body. Low-impact exercises include walking, swimming, or cycling, which can help improve circulation, reduce muscle tension, and promote overall muscle health.

Core Exercises

Strengthening the core muscles, including the abdominal muscles, lower back muscles, and pelvic muscles, can help improve posture and stability. As a result, this can reduce muscle imbalances and prevent cramps.

Warm-up and cool-down exercises

Incorporating warm-up and cool-down exercises (or before and after your workout routine) can help prepare your muscle to intensity and aid in recovery. From preparation for physical activity to gradually transitioning the body back to its resting state will definitely help reduce the risk of injury, improve performance, and promote overall fitness

But if all these exercise-associated muscle cramps tips don’t work, considering what you take inside your body might help.

The Best Supplements for Muscle Cramps

While there is no magic bullet for preventing muscle cramps, there are a few supplements and substances that may help reduce the frequency and intensity of muscle spasms.

If you are prone to cramps, consider adding the following to your diet:

Potassium

Potassium is one of several minerals that are important for nerve and muscle function. When you sweat or urinate, potassium will decrease (medically called hypokalemia), which is linked to cramps.

You can get potassium from foods such as avocados, bananas, kiwi, oranges, figs, spinach, and tomatoes all contain potassium. But if you exercise intensely and sweat a lot, you could still end up running low on potassium unless you use a potassium-rich supplement.

Intake recommendations: Men should consume 3400mg of potassium per day, and women should consume 2600mg.

 

Magnesium

Like potassium, magnesium is another mineral that is important for both nerve and muscle function. And people who exercise regularly often experience magnesium deficiency.

Some good dietary sources of magnesium include spinach, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, milk, and yogurt.

Confusingly, very few studies support the use of magnesium for treating cramps, and those that do were done on pregnant women. However, anecdotally, magnesium does appear to lessen the frequency and intensity of muscle cramps. Also, it’s such a valuable mineral for everyone that it’s worth making sure you get enough anyway.

Intake recommendations: Men should consume 400-420 mg of magnesium per day, and women should consume 310-320 mg.

 

Zinc

Is the second most abundant mineral in your body and plays a vital role in nerve function. So zinc deficiency may increase your risk of muscle cramps.

Dietary zinc is commonly found in shellfish, legumes, red meat, poultry, fish, nuts and seeds, eggs, and whole grains. If you are low on dietary zinc, studies suggest that taking a zinc supplement could help reduce your chances of getting cramps.

Intake recommendation: In studies, participants took 220 mg of zinc per day to ward off cramp (5).

Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin B complex is comprised of eight B vitamins. The B vitamins in vitamin B complex are:

  1. B-1 (thiamine)
  2. B-2 (riboflavin)
  3. B-3 (niacin)
  4. B-5 (pantothenic acid)
  5. B-6 (pyridoxine)
  6. B-7 (biotin)
  7. B-9 (folic acid)
  8. B-12 (cobalamin)

The B vitamins have many functions, two of which are proper nerve function and muscle tone. Studies suggest (6) that this is a good vitamin for muscle cramps and that supplemental vitamin B complex is especially helpful for preventing nighttime cramps.

 

Pickle Juice – Pickle juice might not be something that you think as a supplement for muscle cramps, but studies suggest that this briny liquid can help prevent involuntary muscle spasms (7).

According to the study, the reason that pickle juice helps alleviate and prevent cramps was unclear. However, it was hypothesized that something in the juice inhibited misfiring neurons and “switched off” the affected muscle. The study also suggested that vinegar may be as effective as pickle juice.

Intake recommendation: Unsurprisingly, there is no recommended intake for pickle juice. However, subjects in the study consumed 30-60 milliliters.

TRPs

TRPs is short for Transient Receptor Potential Channel Agonists. That’s a fancy way of saying they control nerve impulses in muscle cells. In studies, TRPs have been shown to reduce muscle cramps (8).

TRPs are present in a range of foods, including garlic, chili peppers, wasabi, peppermint, and stevia.

Intake recommendation: There are no specific recommendations for TRPs, but if you are prone to cramping, including plenty of foods like garlic and chili in your diet may help.

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