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Health > Muscle Cramps

Muscle Cramps

Muscle Cramps Fact Sheet

These are spasms or tight muscles. Usually in the legs.

What to look for

  • a sharp, sudden, painful spasm (or tightening) of a muscle, especially in the legs.
  • muscle hardness
  • twitching of the muscle
  • persistent cramping pains in lower abdominal muscles

Sometimes occurring when a muscle contracts with great intensity and stays contracted, refusing to stretch out again (as is usually the case).


Muscles contract or lengthen in response to our wanting to move. Imbalances in certain minerals as well as in certain hormones, body fluids, and chemicals which allow this lengthening and contracting to occur can prompt spasms and cramps. As well as this, malfunctions in the nervous system itself can also cause problems.
Excessive physical activity and hormonal imbalances depletes fluids and minerals.

Traditional Treatment

If you suffer from frequent or severe cramps, see your doctor. And severe cramps in your chest, shoulders, or arms can be symptoms of a heart attack; call immediately for medical help.
No medicinal treatment of common muscle cramps is required. Massaging a cramping. For frequent or severe cramps, your doctor will diagnose and treat the underlying cause.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - An infusion of ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) may help improve circulation and relieve leg spasms. An herbalist might prescribe Japanese quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) for cramps in the calves.
Aromatherapy - Try using the following essential oils in a carrier oil for massage purposes. Use them separately or in a blend (do not blend more than 3 together). Peppermint, marjoram, lemongrass, lavender, clary sage, basil and ginger.

Dietary Considerations

Nutritionists recommend taking vitamin E supplements to prevent night cramps. You may also find relief by increasing your intake of calcium.

Personal Care

To relieve a typical cramp, you need to make the muscle stop contracting, by physically either stretching it or massaging it, or both.


Drink 6 to 8 cups of water every day. Be sure to warm up before exercising.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience frequent muscle cramps.
  • your muscle cramp lasts more than an hour.
  • your cramp is in your chest or arms;

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