How To Get Rid Of Cramps Fast ? Natural Remedies That Work

Cramps can occur at any time; at sleeping, playing sports, walking or lying on a sofa. They can sometimes cause severe pain. The first question posed by people affected by recurrent cramps is how to get rid of cramps as quickly as possible and how to prevent them in the future. The good news is that there exist natural and effective remedies against cramps without going through medications, these remedies help to immediately relieve the pain of cramps and reduce the risk of future recurrence.

1. What Are Cramps?

A cramp corresponds to involuntary, sustained, temporary, uncontrollable, transient and in most cases painful muscular contractions. It is referred to as one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders. A cramp differs from a contracture that lasts for a longer time. Cramps can occur at rest, including during sleep, or during a fairly intense physical exercise, whether during warm-up, during exercise, or even during the recovery phase.
A cramp usually starts suddenly and brutally, without any preliminary signs to anticipate them. They result in the involuntary and uncontrollable painful contraction of the affected muscle resulting in temporary functional disability of the affected muscle group. A cramp lasts a few seconds to several minutes before disappearing without any sequelae.
Cramps mostly involve the muscles of the lower limbs, especially the calf, feet, toes, but can also reach other parts of the body like:

  • Upper limbs: Arms, hands, fingers (writer’s cramp)
  • The stomach
  • The anus (Proctalgia fugax) or the vagina
  • More rarely: The thorax, and even the face or neck

There are several types of cramps, depending on the time of their occurrence:

  • Cramps of sports origin:
    They mainly affect the muscles and occur especially if the physical preparation and the muscular heating have been neglected and also during an intense muscular effort.
  • Cramps during menstruation:
    Pain is usually felt in the lower abdomen or back. These cramps are painful and often begin just before or at the beginning of menstruation and last from one to three days. ‘Dysmenorrhea’ is the medical term given to these cramps.
  • Pregnancy cramps:
    Cramps are very common during pregnancy, especially during the last few months. Their cause is not well known but it seems that they are linked to Calcium or Magnesium deficiency.
  • Nocturnal cramps (cramps at night):
    They occur at rest and their primary cause is a hyper-excitation of the nerves that control the muscles.
  • Stomach cramps:
    Like all cramps, stomach cramps are an involuntary and painful contraction of the stomach. It is located in the upper and middle part of the abdomen, above the navel and just below the sternum. Stomach cramps are of variable intensity but can be very intense and very painful.

2. Causes and Factors Promoting the Appearance of Cramps

cramps

  • Excessive muscle simulation:
    Including the absence of heating, lack of hydration and absence of stretching.
  • Repetitive physical or occupational activity (eg chain work)
  • Medication:
    Many drugs cause cramps such as diuretics, laxatives, certain drugs for high blood pressure, heart, cholesterol, chemotherapy, birth control pills, etc.
  • Pathological causes:
    Cramps can be caused by neurological pathologies such as multiple sclerosis, spasmophilia, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, varicose veins, some infections, pathologies of hormonal origin.
  • Orthopedic causes:
    Cramps can occur during muscle breaks, fractures, rheumatism or during rehabilitation sessions.
  • Hydro electrolytic origin:
    Deficiency in Potassium, or Magnesium, or Calcium, etc.
  • Vitamin deficiencies:
    – Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
    – Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
    – Vitamin B12
  • Age:
    The frequency of cramps increases with the years. It is not rare, after 65 years, to see them return every week.
  • Other causes:
    Including the cold, the abuse of coffee, alcohol and Tobacco.
  • Static electricity:
    The causes just mentionned are proved by science, others even speak about the presence of “parasitic” electric micro-pulses due to an excess of static electricity of the body (discovered by the famous Italian physician Dr. Luigi GALVANI)

3. How to Get Rid of Cramps Immediately and Naturally?

Apart from particular diseases or consequences of drug treatments, there are very effective natural treatments for cramps depending of course on the type of the cramp. We will present tips for relieving cramps quickly.

a) Cramps due to physical exertion:

  1. Stop exercice: As soon as you feel a cramp, stop exercising or sport activity. Do not think that it will pass by continuing your activity: it is better to stop.
  2. Drink: The most effective is to drink abundantly, as by drinking, it facilitates the drainage and the blood circulation. In addition, you can mix a spoonful of baking soda in a glass of water and immediately drink the mixture. Indeed, the action of this substance opposes the accumulation of acids, especially lactic acid, in the muscles by promoting the elimination of ions which are responsible for cramps and muscle fatigue.
  3. Stretch: If you wear closed shoes or socks, remove them to refresh your foot. Quickly set foot on tiles or cold floor and walk on tiptoe. Then, slowly stretch the muscle that is caught in a cramp; this is the best way to stop the fit immediately. You have at least 3 ways to do this:

    • Standing, the exercise consists of standing facing a wall at a distance of about 1 meter and then leaning forward in order to touch the wall with the hands, keeping the heels stuck to the ground. This position is to be maintained for 15 seconds and to be repeated after a relaxation period of 5 seconds.
    • Then, push your knee forward to stretch the calf muscles.
    • After that, put yourself in the lying position, raise the front of the foot as far as possible. You can also use a strap or a scarf to pull the tip of the foot towards you.‌

    stretching

  4. Massage: To relax the contracted muscles, you can make massages or compresses of hot water. A massage can significantly reduce the dull pains that arise during a muscle cramp. Locate the epicenter of the cramp, then exert pressure on the epicenter of the cramp with your thumb. Press 10 seconds, release and press again until pain is reduced. Otherwise, there exist sticks that seem to be very effective against muscle pain and cramps like the Muscle Roller Stick. These sticks can be used in massage to stop cramps but also to help the muscle recover quickly after intense physical effort.
  5. Heat muscle: If you have the opportunity, then apply an electric cushion or a warm towel on the painful muscle in order to relax it.
  6. Bath: Take a warm bath, and in order to relax your muscles further, add half a cup of Epsom salt to the bath water. Epsom salt is rich in Magnesium and has the effect of fluidizing blood flow and relieving pain.

b) Nocturnal cramps:

Nocturnal cramps mainly affect the toes and calves. If you are affected by cramps during the night then do not panic, follow these tips:

  • Stretch and relax the muscle: Perform a dorsiflexion of the foot reached by slowly pulling the toes and the foot towards the anterior face of the leg. If the cramps persist then get up from the bed and stretch against a wall as shown in the previous section.
    stretching
  • Using metallotherapy: In the past, when people had a cramp at night, they rubbed their legs with a piece of copper or metal. This has the effect of absorbing static electricity from the body and thus reducing or even stopping the cramp. This old technique works well but remains without scientific proof.

4. Cramps Treatments – Preventing Cramps

You have seen how to respond to a cramp in order to relieve it and stop it immediately. You will now understand how to treat the onset of these cramps and prevent their appearance in the future.

4.1) Natural Preventive Treatments

Some people advocate quinine-based drugs to relieve muscle cramps; This drug, which is prescribed for Malaria, is very dangerous and should be avoided absolutely because of its low efficacy and high potential risks that can lead to death (especially haematological, cardiac and allergic). Fortunately, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) no longer allows the use of this drug in the US for several years.

On the other hand, there are natural treatments that are truly effective and without any contraindications or undesirable effects that can be used to prevent cramps:

  • Exercises:
    Physical activity is a good therapy to prevent and treat cramps, however violent sports that brutally solicit muscles are not recommended for people who often suffer from cramps. So, privilege other exercises like yoga, walking, etc. Better yet, during your sports exercise wear a special sock called the Strassburg Sock. This sock reduces also the risk of plantar fasciitis, an injury that sometimes affects runners and walkers (the effectiveness of this famous sock is scientifically proven). 
  • Stretching:
    By adopting some good habits, you can reduce the risk of cramps in the legs. Warm-up is essential before the sport. Perform a few small exercises, and stretch yourself to properly prepare your muscles. If possible, massage the muscles vigorously before exercise.
  • Hydration: 
    As muscle cramps are often caused by dehydration, drink more water if you are likely to have cramps often. If the exercises cause spasms, then take at least two cups of water two hours before your sessions, then at least 125 to 150 ml (one cup)  every half hour during the session and preferably a water rich in Magnesium and Calcium.
  • Hot-Cold affusion: 
    If a member is regularly affected by cramps, do not hesitate to practice alternating hot-cold affusions. This will opens the capillaries and tones the local circulation.
  • Balanced diet : Monitor the intake of minerals, trace elements and vitaminsbalanced diet
    A balanced diet helps to avoid vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Muscle cramps are commonly due to a deficiency of Potassium, Sodium, Calcium and Magnesium electrolytes. Consume fresh fruits and vegetables in good quantity, just in the spring, you will find a nice variety on the stalls. Complete bread and cereals, nuts (nuts, hazelnuts, etc.) and beans are good sources of Magnesium. As for Potassium, there are some in most fruits and vegetables, especially in banana, orange and embroidered melon. Finally, dairy products provide Calcium.
  • Supplements: 
    If your diet is not sufficiently balanced and varied, you may consider taking vitamin supplements. But it will always be less effective than in foods. Here are the necessary complements for good muscle functioning: 

    • supplementsMagnesium: The lack of magnesium is most often pointed out as responsible for cramps. Magnesium in the human body is mainly used for the formation (with Calcium and phosphorus) of bones and teeth, and the fixation of Calcium on bones. It also has an action on growth, transmission of nerve impulses, it promotes cerebral plasticity and avoids the decline of memory. For an adult, it is advisable to have a Magnesium intake between 450 mg and 600 Mg per day. You can also supplement the deficiency of Magnesium by drinking each morning and evening a glass of solution of Magnesium Chloride dosed to 20 g per liter of water. This is a good preventive treatment against muscle cramps or nocturnal cramps (not recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure).
      You can also find Magnesium in Epsom salt. Used mainly in baths, the mineral can be absorbed through the skin and then it finds its way to the muscles. Epsom salts also have a significant amount of sulphate, which helps to eliminate toxins accumulated in the body.
    • Potassium: One of the actions of Potassium is to regulate the muscle fiber contraction force induced by Calcium. Thus frequent Potassium deficiencies, added to those of Magnesium, will be a factor of additional predisposition to cause cramps or muscular tensions.
    • Calcium: Calcium is a major contributor to the contractibility of smooth and striated muscle fibers. Too much Calcium in the muscle cells causes strong contractions. Conversely, a deficiency of Calcium is associated with weak contractions that pose problems of efficiency in the muscles. So it is crucial to have a balanced Calcium level to reduce cramps.
    • Vitamin B: A deficiency of Vitamin B (B1, B6 and B12) systematically leads to muscle cramps. In many scientific studies, persons who took B-complex vitamins for three months reported fewer night-time cramps.
  • Avoid exciting foods and drinks: Discard products with an exciting effect from your “anti-cramp” diet like tea, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, energy drinks and some spices. Indeed, these products fatigue the muscles more.
  • Apple cider vinegar: 
    Apple cider vinegar is among the oldest natural remedies. Rich in Potassium, it makes it possible to fight effectively against the appearance of the cramps.
    – Mix 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon of honey in a cup of hot water. Drink up to 2 cups a day to prevent cramps. You can also choose to apply a compress soaked with apple cider vinegar on the area of the cramp or take a bath in which you have previously poured 2 glasses of apple cider vinegar.
    Otherwise there existe a formula produced by Caleb Treeze to fight cramps. This formula is based on the apple cider vinegar. 
  • Spicy drinks: 
    More and more specialists advise to drink spicy drinks containing, for example, ginger or wasabi before playing sports. There is a commercial brand called Hotshot, a spicy drink made from ginger, cinnamon and capsicum (a component of cayenne pepper) indicated precisely to prevent sportsman cramps. You can also prepare a ginger juice yourself.

Preventing nocturnal cramps:

In addition to the previous recommendations regarding stretching, diet, dietary supplements against cramps, etc. you can also prevent night cramps by following this tips:

  • Avoid as much as possible to point your toes at night. Also avoid excessively tightening your sheets and blankets, which can cause tension in the toes and trigger a cramp.
  • According to Dr. Rivlin’s theory published in the very serious medical review ‘The Lancet’, nocturnal cramps result from poor blood circulation.
    He therefore suggests to elevate your feet in relation to your head in order to place the heart under the level of the veins of the legs. The effect of gravity thus brings back the blood more quickly to the heart.
    Paradoxically, Dr. William Peelen claims to have eliminated his patients’ cramps by doing exactly the opposite. That is, by raising the head of the bed. So you can test both methods and see what works for you.
  • Another old technique is to place a piece of iron under the mat just where the hocks rest. This will have the effect of absorbing static electricity from the body and thus reducing the risk of cramps.

4.2) Essential Oils for Cramps

aromatherapy

As mentioned above, it is possible to relieve muscles cramps by using natural remedies. Moreover, There are some plants and essential oils that possess analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties which quickly penetrate the different skin layers before spreading to the muscles. They are therefore ideal to relieve and prevent cramps as quickly as possible. In a muscle spasm, start by stretching the muscle and think about hydrating yourself. Then prepare a massage oil composed of essential oils or plants. The following essential oils are very effective against muscle cramps:

  • Wintergreen Essential Oil: Anti inflammatory, antispasmodic, it calms the pains by heating the muscle. To be privileged in massages locally. Either pure or in mixture with a vegetable oil of arnica for example.
  • Lavender Essential Oil: Relaxes the muscles, anti inflammatory, can be used gainst all spasms, good anti pain. It can be taken internally and externally.
  • Peppermint Essential Oil: Antispasmodic and anti-pain, decongests the deep tissues, anti-inflammatory. It can also be used internally and externally in admixture with an arnica oil, for example directly on the muscle.
  • Tarragon Essential Oil: Good antispasmodic neuromuscular. Often used against spasmophilia.
  • Rosemary Essential Oil: Often used in case of cramps or muscle contractures. It has an anesthetic action that relieves pain. Used in massages (prohibited during pregnancy and on children under 6 years)

Other essential oils that can be used for fighting muscle pains like cramps can be found in this article: Best Essential Oils For Muscle Pain (Sore Muscles) + Effective Recipes.

Some effective recipes for cramps:

Recipe 01 : Massage

For heating and relaxing muscles 
   – 10 drops of Wintergreen essential oil
   – 5 drops of Peppermint essential oil
   – 5 drops of Helichrysum Essential oil
   – 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil of Macadamia
How to use?
Mix the ingredients in a non reactive bowl.
Massage vigorously muscles susceptible to cramping before the practice of a sport activity, it will prevent the occurrence of cramps.

Recipe 02 : Massage

For heating muscles and preventing cramps 
  – 25 drops of Lavender essential oil
  – 15 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil
  – 10 drops of Helichrysum Essential oil
How to use?
Mix the oils in a glass dropper bottle (for better conservation).
Apply fiew drops on the muscle and massage it gently.
To be used twice a day, by penetrating the product well by a gesture that follows the muscle group to be relieved.
This treatment with essential oils against cramps will also be very useful to sportsmen.
  

Recipe 03 : Massage balm

Effective formula to prevent cramps
   – 100 drops (5 ml) of Rosemary essential oil
   – 100 drops (5 ml) of Lavender essential oil
   – 30 gr of Shea butter
How to use?
Take 30 gr of shea butter and melt it in a bain-marie.
When the butter has melted, let it cool and then add the essential oils before it freezes again.
Take a dab of balm with a spatula or clean fingers and melt it in the palm of your hand.
Then massage the painful areas.

Recipe 04 : Massage

For stopping cramps
  – 75 drops of Lavander essential oil
  – 50 drops of Wintergreen essential oil
  – 25 drops of Juniper essential oil
  – 100 drops of Arnica oil
How to use?
Mix the oils in a bowl.
Massage the affected area with 6 to 8 drops of the mixture. For athletes, it can be used as a preventive measure, before the effort to avoid cramps, or after.
  

Recipe 05 : Massage

To treat recurrent cramps
   – 3 drops of Chamomile essential oil
   – 3 drops of Tea tree essential oil
   – 8 drops of Lavender essential oil
   – 3 drops of Ginger essential oils 
   – 3 drops of Rosemary essential oil
   – 2 teaspoons of  sweet Almond oil or Grape seed oïl
How to use?
Mix the oils in a non reactive bowl.
Apply the mixture on the painful area and massage gently.
Preferably after a warm bath to penetrate the oils.

Recipe 06 : Massage

To stop and treat recurrent cramps
  – 20 drops of Lavender essential oil
  – 20 drops of Tarragon essential oil
  – 20 drops of Rosemary essential oil
  – 20 drops of  of Wintergreen essential oil
  – 3 ml of St. John’s Wort oil 
  – 3 ml of Arnica oil
How to use?
Mix the oils in non reactive bowl.
Massage the painfull muscle every ¼ hour.
 

4.3) Homeopathy for Cramps

Because homeopathy is the queen’s tailor-made medicine, it helps relieve the different forms of cramps. Here are some of homeopathic treatments that can be used for cramps.

Name Our Selection 
If you are prone to cramps during exercise, take 5 granules of Cuprum metallicum 9 CH and 5 granules of Arnica montana 9 CH when the cramp occurs.
As a preventive measure, during the first hour, take 5 granules of Cuprum metallicum 9 CH and 5 granules of Magnesia phosphorica 7 CH every 10 minutes, then 5 granules twice a day for 3 months. This will prevent the occurrence of cramps.
You can also suck a Sportenine tablet before exercise and one tablet every hour during and after exercise. This homeopathic medicine is used in cases of cramps, body aches and physical fatigue.
Chamomilla 4 CH: Used for cramps in the calves mainly at night, hypersensitivity to pain. Effective also for convulsions, cramps and spasms of the motor muscles. Even for gastric, intestinal, respiratory or cardiac spasms. Take 5 granules per day.
Colchicum 4 CH: Used for cramps in the calves, violent pains in the heels and soles of the feet.
For cramps caused by a problem of venous return, which awaken at night and contributes to the nocturnal anguish: take 2 granules of Secale Cornutum in 9 CH 3 times a day. Space with decreased symptoms.

 

5. Other Daily Tips

  1. No sports without warm-up! This is important to avoid muscle cramps, contractures and tendinitis.
  2. Have a good listening to your body : With experience, one can feel the arrival of cramps, especially if the effort is not too intense. Learning to recognize the warning signs helps to relax the muscle before the cramp and to act accordingly.
  3. In warm or cold weather, wear warm clothing, especially during warm-up and after exercise.
  4. When a muscle is tired and has not recovered well, it is more likely to suffer from cramps. A good recovery is therefore essential to avoid cramps.
  5. Stress may lead to the development of cramps if accompanied by latent muscle tension. So learn how to manage your stress.‌
 
Conclusion:
Everybody can be effected by cramps. There is no drug to treat them, however, there are effective natural remedies that have no negative side effects on health. We have presented the best of these remedies to stop these cramps and also to prevent their appearance.
The natural remedies presented in this article concern, in their majority, muscle cramps. We will present in future articles remedies for other types of cramps such as pregnancy cramps or stomach cramps.
 
 
 
 

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