When you do vigorous exercises it’s very normal to catch muscle cramps. Most people who workout have witnessed muscle cramps, especially in the calf muscle of the leg. A lot of you have wondered once about how to get rid of muscle cramps due to gym workout. We will talk about how to get rid of it, but before that, we will talk about how a person can get a muscle cramp.
Muscle Cramps can happen due to many reasons. We will have a take on each reason, and we will also have a take on how to avoid muscle cramps for once and for all.
Of course, amidst all these, we will also talk about how to get rid of muscle cramps due to gym workout, exercises, and sometimes while not even moving your body. We are about to bring you a lot of serious science in a way in which non-geeks understand!
What Is A Muscle Cramp?
A cramp in the muscle occurs when there are involuntary contractions in a muscle or group of muscles in your body which causes extreme discomfort to use the muscle (And the body part where the muscle belongs to).
It is also known as Charley Horse, though nobody is fond of weird medical terms. Generally, a muscle cramp goes away with rest. It can stay from 15 minutes to days. Muscle Cramps are extremely natural while doing heavy exercises, pregnancy, hot weather, and for various medical conditions.
Muscle cramp brings sudden pain and lumps in the muscle.
This was the basic explanation about muscle cramps. Now let’s move onto the part where we discuss how muscle cramps and exercise are linked with each other.
How Do You Get Muscle Cramps After Heavy Workout?
First and foremost, nobody knows the exact reason for muscle cramps. So here we will understand all the important possibilities of a muscle cramp.
Do you see how people transform from a normal guy to someone looking like Dwayne Johnson? They contract their muscles in such a way that the cells in their muscles get bigger in size. That’s a different story altogether which we are getting onto.
Understand one thing, your body doesn’t want to exercise. It wants to maintain a normal healthy rhythm in which it is comfortable. While you exercise you put your body under tremendous pressure, and by doing it in a rhythm you get your body adapted to take the pressure and excel.
It’s a continuous process to some extent. It’s a process of continuous tearing and healing of muscles which helps you to grow muscles (Well, basically the size of the cells inside your muscles). How do you get a muscle cramp? There are a lot of theories. Let’s take a dig, one by one.
1. The Lactic Acid And Oxygen Shortfall Theory :
So when you put your body under such pressure, a lot of internal changes take place.
Firstly, your muscle starts to utilize the available ATPs (Power sources, can call it fuel for your muscles) to produce the energy required to lift the weight/undergo the pressure.
Your body needs oxygen to break food into Glucose, and later on, Glucose is also converted to Pyruvate which basically helps our body to produce energy.
When you work out, you are putting your body to an uncomfortable condition. For which the available Oxygen in your body burns up really fast. Also, you are in a hyperactive mode to breathe like when someone does Yoga!
So basically your muscles run out of Oxygen. Well, there’s a plan B available for the muscles in your body. To continue producing energy to help you lift that extra weight, or help you do that extra push up, your body decides to produce lactate (A component which also helps to break Glucose into Pyruvate & further energy) and the excessive lactate or lactic acid accumulates in your cells of the muscles and it becomes tough to get cleared out. Basically, the muscle gets jammed from inside for lactic acid.
This incident causes muscle cramps. You already know what is a muscle cramp. It is also known as a muscle spasm. When your body rests and gets enough oxygen, it clears out the excess lactate and eventually you feel better.
Though, there are many debates about this hypothesis. There are a lot more factors that can cause muscle cramps!
2. The Dehydration & Electrolyte Imbalance Theory :
Well, the lactic acid spasm theory is now outdated. There is a theory where your dehydration in your body and electrolyte imbalance causes the muscle cramp. So when you work out, you lose water from your body through sweat. Right? It causes water deficiency in your body which causes further obstacles in your body to perform normally, hence it leads to muscle cramps.
Not only water, in sweat, there is also sodium. Which is basically salt. So when you lose out on salt there’s an incident of electrolyte imbalance in the body. And due to electrolyte imbalance, there’s again an unnatural situation in the body which is further reflected in a muscle cramp.
Without adequate water supply in the system, your muscles will struggle to produce energy, hence cramps.
3. Neuromuscular Disruption :
Your neuromuscular movements also decide upon your cramps. Suppose your body is having normal neuromuscular movements where the proper signals are being transmitted from your spine to other parts of the body, then it is said that you can perform as vigorous exercise as you want without having a muscle cramp.
However, when your neuromuscular movements are disrupted or disturbed, cramps happen. How does your neuromuscular movement gets disrupted?
- Low blood glucose
- High body temperature
- Low blood flow in muscles
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Glycogen Depletion
- Muscle fatigue
These are the main cause of the disruption. So in order to avoid neuromuscular disturbance, you need to take care of all the above things.
Even after three major theories that cause muscle cramps, we need to hunt a little more to get rid of muscle cramps due to gym workout. As there’s no confirmed reason, we have solutions that safeguard most of these situations.
Hypertrophy Vs. Muscle Cramp :
There is a continuous process by which your muscle tends to grow bigger and you get to flaw your biceps, triceps, and what not! And that causes pain too, which is labeled as ‘good pain’ and often mistaken as muscle cramps. So it is a must that we clear that out too.
What is Hypertrophy? Hyper is referring to something excessive in nature whereas Trophy means something which nourishes. So together Hypertrophy is something that nourishes your muscles to the maximum extent.
As it is already said, your body does not want to work out. In order to grow muscle, you must throw challenges to your body and win them over. Like start with lifting a 2.5kg weight but soon your body can adapt to that weight then challenge your body with 5kgs. When the muscles are under pressure they tend to become stronger and bigger to adapt to the pressure, and that is how your muscle grows.
While you work out with weights, there are small tears in the micro-fibers of your muscles. That, of course, causes pain which is very much similar to muscle cramp but it’s not the same.
However, to heal and repair that muscle tear one needs proteins and carbs in the nutrition. Proteins are important to repair the tears and fulfill the gap. Whereas carbs are important to produce the energy in the body using which the protein will reach the cells.
Each time your muscles are torn apart, each time it is getting protein and other nutrition, it’s healing up and getting bigger. That is what hypertrophy is. It takes up to 48 hours to heal your muscle tears. Also, you need to take proper day time rest. Your body is repairing yourself the maximum when you are resting. At the same time, Testosterone and other hormones are very high too when relaxed. These hormones provoke good health.
It is very similar to the feeling of having a muscle cramp. But it is not the same thing.
How Long Does A Muscle Cramp Stay?
Usually, a Muscle cramp can stay as minimum as 15minutes to 24 hours as well as 48 hours too. Any muscle cramp lasting longer than that time period is unnatural. And it is advised to rush to your doctor for anything serious. A normal cramp will not stay more than 48 hours, anyhow.
Now, the most important part, how to get rid of muscle cramps due to gym workout and as well as how to avoid it.
How To Avoid Muscle Cramps Due To Gym Workout?
- Drink Water: Drinking water will make sure your body does not fall short of water while you are exercising. Drink plenty of water 3 hours before the workout, if you are a morning person then hydrate your body at night. Also, sip water while exercising, and again an hour from exercising. It will make sure your body doesn’t get cramp due to water shortage.
- Electrolytes/Gatorade: Don’t go for any energy drink which has caffeine in it. Because caffeine is diuretic so it will flush out water from your body. Have electrolytes having sodium, potassium, magnesium and loads of other minerals nourishing your body.
- Don’t skip Warm-up: Skipping the warm-up session will only harm your body. When you directly go to lifting up weights from a normal condition of the body, it gets a sudden trauma which also causes muscle cramps. As there is sudden tension in the muscle. Warming up your body will do the process slowly, and eventually, when the body is adapted with the excess energy-burning, you can do heavy workouts without having muscle cramps.
How To Get Rid Of Muscle Cramps Due To Gym Workout?
- Ice Packs: When you already have a severe muscle cramp, lay down & apply some ice pack. It will help you to get rid of muscle cramps due to gym workout.
- Massage Therapy: Massaging the cramped muscle will do wonder. Preferably by a proper masseuse or physiotherapist otherwise, there are chances of hurting the muscle more. To get rid of muscle cramps due to gym workout, massage brings the ultimate solution.
- Rest: Most importantly, give proper rest to your body. When your body is resting, your body is in repair mode with higher Testosterone levels. While you rest, it becomes easier for your body to repair the muscle cramps faster. With fresh oxygen and proper rest, your body gets out of such trauma.
What Are The Foods Which May Help You Get Rid Of Muscle Cramps Due To Gym Workout?
- Banana: Rich in potassium. So it will provide your body enough potassium to get over the cramps.
- Leafy Greens: Leafy greens are always the number one priority in your diet having loads of magnesium.
- Milk: Rich in calcium, sodium, and potassium. Also, it has good protein.
- Egg White/ Sea Fish: Egg white also brings loads of protein in your body to fill the gap of muscle tears, if there’s any, with protein. Sea fish is also a good source of healthy protein.
- Carbs (Rice): Carbs are extremely important for your body to produce the energy in the body to carry the proteins to each cell. Rice is the best source.
- Orange: Orange is a great source of calcium and other important nutrients in your body. Have a cup of orange juice.
- Nuts: Nuts also have good fats, especially walnuts. Having them will help your body to get rid of muscle cramps due to gym workout and the pain.
Related Post: Pros And Cons Of Different Types Of Diet To Lose Weight
This is how you fight muscle cramps. But to stay aware to not get one, always play safe and hydrate your body and maintain all the nutrients in your body at a good level to avoid muscle cramps at all! Happy Gymming!
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