How Do You Stop a Cramp Fast?

Medically Reviewed on 2/14/2022
how to stop cramps
The most effective treatment for muscle cramps depends on the underlying cause but may include the following.

The effective treatment of muscle cramps is determined by the underlying cause.

The most effective treatments for people suffering from overuse or fatigue muscle cramps are:

  • Rest
  • Passive stretching
  • Massage
  • Icing the affected muscles
  • Muscle contraction on the opposite side of the cramping muscle (i.e., if the hamstring is cramping, contract the quadriceps muscle group to relax the hamstring muscle group)

For those experiencing muscle cramps due to excessive sweating and a sodium deficiency:

  • Hydration is essential
  • The same treatments described can be used right away to relieve pain and muscle spasms
  • However, in addition to stretching, massage, and ice application, these people must consume sodium-enriched fluids (oral rehydration solution, Gatorade)
  • According to research, immediate consumption of a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink with salt added and thoroughly mixed over 5 to 10 minutes is effective in relieving muscle cramps and preventing future severe cramping

3 common causes of muscle cramps

Overexertion is the most common cause of cramping in athletes, such as runners. Most exercise-induced cramps are not caused by dehydration or electrolyte imbalances. Cramps are more likely to occur because of overexertion and pushing the muscles harder and for a longer period than they are used to.

  1. Overexertion
    • It is the most likely cause of cramping during a race. A person pushes themselves harder during a race than they did during any training runs. It is the most difficult concept for many to accept because people believe they have adequately prepared for their sporting endeavors.
    • During a race, a person will almost certainly deviate from their training plan. The hope is that the body is physically prepared to deal with this overexertion without injury. If a person gets muscle cramps or spasms before or during an event, change the training routine for the next event.
  2. Muscle tissue prefers movement versus static postures
    • Prolonged immobility causes spasms and pain over time.
    • Muscle cramping can be caused by prolonged poor posture, such as a slouched spine with a forward head posture or riding in a car with the knee completely flexed up all day.
    • Poor posture can cause vertebral and spinal problems, which can lead to more pain and cramping.
  3. Dehydration
    • This can cause an electrolyte imbalance and decrease tissue extensibility, resulting in muscle spasms and cramping.
    • It can result in decreased blood flow to body parts and organ systems that rely on blood for oxygen and nutrients.
    • Spasms can occur in both skeletal muscle and the abdominal organs. Dehydration combined with severe electrolyte imbalances can result in additional cardiac symptoms, including cardiac arrest (heart attack).
    • Dehydration can occur for a variety of reasons, including illness that causes excessive vomiting or diarrhea.
    • Magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium are all essential for bodily functions, especially muscle and nervous tissue. Too much or too little concerning one another can cause muscle spasms and pain.

12 other common causes of muscle cramping

  1. Muscle tears and injury
  2. Vertebral misalignment
  3. Poor blood flow (vascular occlusion)
  4. Pain from an injury to a muscle, bone, tendon, ligament, or nerve tissue
  5. Emotional or psychological pain
  6. Fractures
  7. Nerve damage
  8. Illness
  9. Thyroid issues
  10. Medications
  11. Medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stroke, and restless leg syndrome
  12. Arachnids, an injury caused by a spider bite or bites from other insects; their venom can cause muscle cramping

Although the list of common causes of spasms or cramping is long, it is certainly not all-inclusive.


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Can I prevent muscle cramps?

Muscle cramps can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle and correct training processes. 

A few common tips to prevent muscle cramps are:

  • Drink enough water and liquids and ensure the urine is light yellow or clear like water
  • Drinks containing alcohol should be limited or avoided
  • Make sure to get enough calcium, potassium, and magnesium in the diet (especially if a person is pregnant)
  • Stretch muscles daily, particularly before and after exercise and before going to bed
  • Do not start exercising more frequently suddenly; each week, increase exercise time or intensity by a small amount
  • Take a multivitamin supplement daily
  • The doctor may prescribe different medications if a person is taking medications that can cause leg cramps

If a person has muscle cramps that do not go away or are severe, consult a doctor. These could be signs of something else, such as restless legs syndrome. If the cramps keep coming back, are bothering a lot, or are interfering with sleep, the doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/14/2022
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