Muscle Spasms: Causes, Prevention and Treatment



Muscle spasms are terrible and very painful. You’re lucky if you haven’t experienced one before. Good thing is, they are preventable too and knowing exactly what to do when it strikes might just be the difference between an individual who strolls home confidently after a gym session and one who is writhing helplessly in pain.

Although lots of folks interchange muscle spasm and cramps often, they are very different.

A muscle spasm results when your muscles contract involuntarily and remain in that state thereby causing some terrible pain which makes relaxing quite impossible.

According to Mark Kozuki, DPT (physical therapist), the pain from cramps tend to be sustained unlike the pain from muscle spasms that just come and go quickly. While a cramp is often felt in the hamstring, foot, and calf, muscle spasms tend to affect the back, trunk muscles, and hips.

Muscle spasms
Image Credit:

Causes of Muscle Spasms

There are various events that can be attributed to muscle spasms. Leaving your muscles in a high-threshold state after doing heavy lifts can cause muscle spasms.

It is advisable to eat a banana before a workout session because it is rich in potassium and potassium deficiency is another cause of spasms. The most common cause, however, is dehydration.

According to Dr. Adam Rivadeneyra, a sports medicine consultant at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in California, several factors can mitigate spasms. Some includes lack of enough energy, fatigue, and wrong movement patterns can lead to overworking the muscles and inevitably, spasms.

He also pointed out that extreme weather condition might also be the cause of muscle spasms. According to him, very cold or very hot weather conditions can make warm-up and cool down quite difficult for the body and muscles to manage as well as increase the rate of dehydration.

Prevention of Spasms

One of the best ways to fix a problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. It is also the case for muscle spasms. As a matter of fact, you stand a chance of never experiencing it ever. However, you must successfully take steps towards curbing its incidence.

The starting point is checking your hydration level. According to Dr. Kozuki, this is done easily by checking the color of your urine. The clearer the urine, the better for everyone.

Ensure that you do a lot of stretching before you begin your workouts. Do not overstrain your muscles and make sure you give your body enough time to recover between activities. Also, make sure you’re your exercises are done well (good forms). These are the best ways to prevent muscle spasms, according to Kozuki.

Treatment of Spasms

When you have a light muscle spasm attack, it is best to rest. Also, a quick massage or ice on the area of the pain can ease the pain. You can also take liquids for more hydration or do some stretching.

However, if the attack becomes more chronic and with a much more intense pain than normal, you should consult your physical therapist.

A professional physical therapist will ensure that the spasm is not caused by any other medical condition and your treatment might be improving movement patterns, strengthening weak body areas, acupuncture, injections, chiropractic adjustments or massage.

If you do not want to be treated by a professional, you can do some soft-tissue work using foam balls or foam rollers. “This activity provides a specific release to the muscles,” Kozuki says.