Muscles spasms can occur from a combination of factors, from over training to lack of proper self-care and it’s common from dino-sores to gen z(zzz)-ers. Our bodies are complex systems that have a complex set of requirements whether it be dietary or just some good old TLC (hydration, rest, heat).1
The reason that we get muscle spasms, objectively, is a matter of self-care. Whether you’re an intensive athlete or a regular Joe (anne). An individual must be self aware when they’re training and/or are lacking a proper diet for good muscle health. Pain is the biological alert to a necessity for change. Muscle spasms are just the alert on vibrate.
Muscle spasms aren’t anything to worry about. These can be signs of bodily changes through things like menopause.8 In rare cases they can be signs of underlying health issues such as multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, or cirrhosis of the liver.4 They are very common in athletes and people who exercise regularly. They are also very avoidable with the proper tools, and even manageable for those that cannot avoid it.
What are muscle spasms
Muscle spasms are the involuntary, rapid contraction and relaxation of a muscle. Even a spontaneous twitch affecting the eyelids or nose. Muscle spasms can be painful and vary in their severity, in terms of frequency and aggressiveness. These are uncontrollable and can happen in any of the muscle groups, whether simultaneously or on an individual basis. The most common groups are the thighs, calves, feet, hands, arms and abdomen.2
Causes of muscle spasms
There is no one cause for muscle spasms although there are many contributing factors and perfectly viable options in managing them. For athletes as well as those who train regularly,
overtraining is a frequent cause of muscle spasms. Overtraining increases blood flow given the requirement for a great deal of oxygenation. Exhausting the oxygen supply, especially when dehydrated, causing the muscles to operate anaerobically (without oxygen) with a buildup of lactic acids.4 The result is muscle spasms, muscles that cannot relax and/or operate properly. Much like dry needle therapy, these muscles are trying to autonomically induce relaxation. As a reader you can help this process by providing proper care, from heat, rest, to consuming proper nutrients and vitamins.
Muscle spasm can arise due to problems in 5:
Nutrition: Muscle contraction is the result of the neuro-synaptic response which is reliant on the gradient created in the muscle. This is all based on the chemical makeup of the things we consume and fuel our bodies with. Things like potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium are key to a balance to proper function with this gradient.
Circulation: As a result of narrow arteries. This can arise from things such as atherosclerosis (commonly associated with obesity) or even exposure to the cold.
Metabolism: The metabolic system fuels our muscles in its creation of energy. When overused, energy is over consumed, furthermore our oxygen is over consumed hindering our metabolic system as it cannot produce energy anaerobically and often results in muscle spasms (twitches, soreness).
Nerves: As a result of neurological degenerative diseases such Parkinson's disease, neuropathy. Or nerve compressive problems typically arising in the lower spine, or foot arches.
Hormones: As a result of genetic predisposition and biological makeup, as well as natural biological processes like menopause. The result is a chemical imbalance that interferes with the brain's ability to communicate with the nerves in the body. Altering the synaptic response system
Management and treatment for muscle spasms
The treatment for muscle spasms can start with you. Things that promote proper blood flow, like stretching and applying heat are good. Restrictive factors, specifically things that constrict the flow in the arteries such as being overweight or less severe examples like being exposed to the cold.
The purpose of promoting blood flow is to improve the oxygenation to our muscle groups, as energy production in the muscles and muscle function rely on energy production. Our bodies are composed of 60% water, a key contributor to oxygen production. While working out, hydration is key.
Overworking is also counterproductive, as our body begins to work anaerobically instead of producing more energy our body becomes unable to sustain it, so instead of building muscle it begins to consume itself. The production of chemicals such as creatinine are signs of this. This applies to a single workout, or even your entire workout regimen. Rest days are important, and they are a key contributor to allowing your body to reach equilibrium, or homeostasis. Instead of producing counterproductive chemicals, and inducing things like muscle spasms.3
Your body's supply of nutrients and vitamins (such as potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium) are also important. Some good substitutes can be found here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps#7.-Papaya
How common are muscle spasms
Muscle spasms are common in athletes and people who train frequently. Physical activity is highly important with a large array of positive benefits. Despite this fact the body requires proper care for the most optimal result without residual effect from things like muscle spasms.
What do muscle spasms feels like
Muscle spasms might feel like a ventriloquist is autonomously operating the synaptic response within a muscle group, and they are on a schedule so you can expect this frequently. In other words it feels like a twitch or spasm that is completely out of your control. This can affect any muscle group, even your eyelids and nose. The degree of pain can vary for everyone, but regardless it is not pleasant or welcomed by most.
Can muscle spasms be prevented
Muscle spasms can be prevented with proper care. One must take into account the dynamics of their body. Over training is never a good idea, counterintuitively it can cause degrative results. Despite the commonly phrased “no pain, no gain”, no rest day no gain either and then some.
When should I call a doctor
Given the range in muscle spasm severity it is largely based on your pain threshold. If the pain persists for too many weeks it would be wise to consider working with a physiotherapist or your GP.3
Muscle spasms are the unpleasant result of a lack of self care, whether it be due to overtraining or an insufficient supply of vitamins and nutrients to the body. Sometimes it can be the result of natural biological processes or underlying health conditions, often causing miscommunications between the brain and the nervous system.
- Brukner P. Brukner and Khan's Clinical Sports Medicine. Sydney: McGraw-Hill Education; 2017.
- Muscle spasms (muscle cramps): Causes, pain relief & treatment [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. [cited 2023Feb25]. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15466-muscle-spasms#:~:text=Muscle%20spasms%20(muscle%20cramps)%20are%20common.,anyone%20and%20are%20very%20normal.
- Take that, Muscle Cramps! [Internet]. Harvard Health. 2021 [cited 2023Feb25]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/take-that-muscle-cramps#:~:text=Cramps%20also%20occur%20when%20a,worsen%20both%20of%20these%20problems.
- K; S. Muscle Fatigue and lactic acid accumulation [Internet]. Acta physiologica Scandinavica. Supplementum. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2023Feb25]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3471061/
- Muscle spasms: Causes, symptoms, and treatment [Internet]. Medical News Today. MediLexicon International; [cited 2023Feb25]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/muscle-spasms#seeing-a-doctor
- Kubala J. 12 foods that may help with muscle cramps [Internet]. Healthline. Healthline Media; 2020 [cited 2023Feb25]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps#7.-Papaya
- Metabolic myopathies - diseases [Internet]. Muscular Dystrophy Association. 2021 [cited 2023Feb25]. Available from: https://www.mda.org/disease/metabolic-myopathies#:~:text=When%20energy%20levels%20become%20too,build%20up%20inside%20muscle%20cells.
- Cramps, spasms and Muscle Health in Menopause [Internet]. Naturopathic treatment for the symptoms of menopause. [cited 2023Feb25]. Available from: https://www.menopausenaturalsolutions.com/blog/cramps-spasms-and-muscle-health-in-menopause