Muscle spasms are involuntary contractions of the muscles. They occur and resolve quickly. Most cases of muscle spasms feel like a slight twitch but muscle spasms can also be painful.
Anyone can get muscle spasms. Muscle spasms can happen with any muscle group and there are many underlying causes of spasms, not all of them signaling a major medical issue.
Do you struggle with muscle spasms? If so, you’re likely wondering how to treat your muscle spasms. Luckily, massage therapy is always an option. Here’s how a certified massage therapist can treat your muscle cramps and other treatment options that are available.
As stated previously, muscle spasms have many underlying causes. In addition, muscle spasms are usually not a sign of a serious issue, though they can be painful.
Most muscle spasms have one main underlying cause: electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are essential minerals — calcium, sodium, and potassium. These minerals have many key functions in the body.
When we don’t have enough electrolytes, we experience different effects, such as muscle spasms. This commonly occurs when we’re dehydrated or are overheated.
What do electrolytes have to do with your muscle pain? Electrolytes carry charges and these positive and negative charges impact your muscle contractions, specifically how your muscles relax. This is where massage therapy comes in.
Massage therapy uses hands-on techniques to relieve muscle tension. Massage also increases blood flow to these muscles, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. Massage therapy also increases endorphins in the brain, relaxing you mentally as well as physically.
While massage can’t replace water and a proper diet, it can relieve some of the effects of muscle spasms.
As stated previously, muscle spasms can occur in any muscle of the body. But where you experience your muscle cramps may also provide insight into potential underlying causes.
The most common muscle spasm locations are in the foot and calf. Foot spasms and cramps are often harmless; these usually happen when you overuse the muscles in your feet, such as when running.
Calf and leg spasms and cramps, called Charley horses, are also very common. They also occur when you overuse the leg muscles, though severe spasms can signal an injury. Charley horses are also common when you’re pregnant or of old age.
However, some spasms are uncommon and may be a sign of something serious. For example, spasms in the stomach can signal a gastrointestinal problem. If you experience spasms in the stomach or chest, consult with your physician.
In addition, you should also consult your doctor if you get muscle cramps regularly. These could signal a serious problem, such as an injury.
How do massage therapists help those with muscle spasms? Just about all major types of massage use different techniques that increase tissue circulation. These techniques bring blood and other fluids to the tissues, relaxing them. Some of these techniques include neuromuscular, Swedish, and myofascial.
Keep in mind, you shouldn’t experience pain if you’re undergoing massage therapy. If you are, inform your certified massage therapist.
In addition to the techniques we mentioned previously, there are other techniques that a massage therapist may use to treat your muscle spasms. Here are a couple of examples when choosing the best massage service.
Reciprocal inhibition is another method that can relieve muscle spasms. This is a technique that’s common in sports massage. Reciprocal inhibition is the application of tension on the opposing muscle.
For example, if you struggle with Charley horses on the back calf, the massage therapist will apply tension to the front of the same calf. This effect will cause the back of the calf to relax.
Certain temperatures can also relax the muscles, preventing spasms. Heat is especially beneficial; warmth entices blood circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the muscle. As long as the heat isn’t too hot, the individual will feel relaxed and the effect will feel soothing on the muscles.
While massage therapy can relieve your spasms and cramps, you’ll ideally not want to struggle with muscle spasms. Here are some simple ways you can prevent muscle spasms.
Since most people suffer muscle spasms as a result of dehydration, drinking enough water throughout the day can prevent muscle spasms. The average adult should be drinking a half-gallon of water a day.
This is especially important if the weather is hot; drinking enough water will prevent you from being overheated.
While a normal glass of water will suffice, you can also drink electrolyte-rich drinks such as coconut water. These drinks are especially important if you are perspiring excessively.
One of the essential minerals we need is potassium. Bananas have an abundance of potassium — so much that only eating one banana can counter the potassium we lose during perspiration. Try and eat a banana a day, especially when it’s hot outside.
When it’s hot outside, stay indoors in the air conditioning. Refrain from exercising when it’s extremely hot outside. If you have to perform strenuous activities outside, try and go out during the evening or other cool parts of the day.
But not everyone can avoid this, especially if you work outside. This brings us to our next point.
If you’re prone to muscle spasms and cramps, make stretching a normal part of your day. Stretching also brings oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. If you’re exercising or performing any type of strenuous activity, make sure you stretch prior to and after the activity.
No one likes dealing with muscle spasms and cramps. Muscle spasms occur when there’s an electrolyte imbalance, but can also occur when you overuse your muscles. If you’re prone to muscle spasms, a certified massage therapist can use different techniques to relax the muscle and increase circulation.
Keep in mind, you should consult a physician if your muscle spasms are severe or occur in your chest or stomach.
Do you want to try massage therapy for your muscle spasms? Call us at (402) 384-8400 if you’re in Omaha, Nebraska.