As you age, you might find that your muscles cramp up far more than they used to. Chronic pain and aches seem to be a largely accepted part of “getting older,” but why? Ageing can affect how muscles contract and, in turn, how prone they are to cramping up.
One of the biggest reasons cramps are more common in adulthood (40-plus) is the natural shortening of tendons that connect muscles to bones.
As this connective tissue gradually decreases, the corresponding muscles are more likely to involuntarily seize up, resulting in cramps or charley horses.
Although muscle cramping and ageing do have a direct connection, this doesn’t mean older adults are out of luck when it comes to pain relief.
With the right education, preparation, and prevention, you can enjoy athletic activity as well as reduce the risk of cramps in everyday life.
At What Age Do Your Muscles Shrink?
From age 30 onward, the muscles throughout the body gradually begin to decrease in size. From your 30th year, you can lose between 3% to 5% of muscle each decade. As adults age, and they do not work to strengthen muscles, they are more likely to experience cramps, reduced flexibility, and restricted mobility.
Are muscle cramps or spasms more common in older adults?
A muscle cramp and spasm are the same thing — the difference is the duration and intensity of the contraction. When a spasm occurs and it sustains for more than several seconds, it becomes a cramp.
Muscle cramps can last for minutes at a time, with the average duration being 9 minutes. These cramps tend to be involuntary, meaning you did not contract or tighten the muscle deliberately as a part of exercise.
People with neurodegenerative diseases are more likely to struggle with involuntary muscle spasms throughout the day, but you do not need any underlying medical condition to experience spasms or cramps.
Why do leg cramps happen at night?
The most common types of muscular cramps occur in the legs. An estimated 75% of all leg cramps occur at night.
Leg cramps are especially common at night among adults. Data suggests that between 37% to 50% of older adults suffer from nocturnal leg cramps.
As many as 60% of adults experience night cramps, and women are more likely to suffer from them than men.
If you suffer from restless leg syndrome, then you may have a persistent tightness in your legs whenever you rest that does not alleviate without movement. In severe cases, you may have nightly cramps that make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
No one knows precisely why most leg cramps occur at night, but it could be linked to inactivity and long periods of rest.
After retirement age, many adults begin to slow down and lead less active lifestyles. They may spend their days camped in front of the TV, on the couch, or lounging around. If they do not regularly exercise, then their muscles will continue to breakdown.
The cellular and nerve breakdown that’s natural in the ageing process increases the risk of frequent muscle cramps.
At night, when the body is at its most restful state, nerve misfirings are more likely to occur, causing legs and other muscles to contract and cramp.
What are the best ways to stop leg cramps fast?
If you struggle with frequent leg cramps, some lifestyle changes and preventative strategies can help you get rid of them quickly.
During a cramp, move your muscle gently to help coax it out of a tense position. If you experience a cramp in your calf, try to extend your leg outward and lift your toes toward the sky.
Jiggling your leg when you feel a spasm, changing positions, and stretching in the middle of a cramp can all help alleviate pain quickly. Many experts, including pro athletes, swear by drinking pickle juice to stop cramps.
FixxNutrition’s CrampFix® combines all the essential electrolytes (minerals) found in pickle juice into a high-concentrate formula. This formula is designed for professionals, but it can help anyone struggling with regular cramping.
With rapid relief in mind, CrampFix® can stop cramps in seconds. In under 2 minutes, even one of your most painful muscle cramps can end.
Some additional tips for stopping leg cramps include:
- Staying active throughout the day. Conduct desk stretches, move at least 10 minutes every hour, and try to follow a morning and nightly stretch routine.
- Drink enough water. Make sure you’re getting adequate hydration throughout the day. An adult should drink between 2.1 to 2.8 litres per day. After any period of exercise, make sure you drink at least 236ml within 30 minutes.
- Don’t overexert yourself. Pushing muscles to work harder helps them grow, but there is a limit. Overtraining does not lead to faster growth, only fatigue, risk of injury, and cramping.
- Use heat and cold. Head can increase blood flow, making muscles less likely to seize up. Cold, on the other hand, can help stop a painful contraction and soothe a cramp until it subsides.
What can you drink for muscle cramps?
Whether you only get them once and a while or are dealing with routine cramps, science suggests that pickle juice and water are the best drinks for muscle cramps. Water helps improve the flow of oxygen throughout the body; as blood circulation increases, muscles are less likely to become mineral deficient. This can greatly reduce the risk of them cramping.
Pickle juice stops muscle cramps by triggering a reflex in the throat. The oropharyngeal reflex sends a rapid signal to the brain that “turns off” muscle contractions in other parts of the body.
Other research suggests that the increase of electrolytes found in pickle juice can stop muscle cramps rapidly.
Electrolytes like sodium, magnesium, and potassium help muscles contract. They dissolve in water and create electrical signals — without them, muscles struggle to function properly, which can lead to nerves miscommunicating with your spinal cord.
With a rapid dose of electrolytes, pickle juice can ease cramps. That’s the science behind CrampFix® – ultra-fast pain relief using nothing but all-natural, 100%-vegan ingredients.
For everyday muscle pain relief, try CrampFix Mouth Spray to stop hand, leg, and foot cramps quickly.