Have you ever been awoken in the middle of the night by a muscle spasm or cramp that makes you want to scream? Nocturnal leg cramps are fairly common and zero fun.

Contrary to popular belief, drinking pickle juice or having a banana beside your bed to eat at the onset of cramps will not help. While pickle juice has been shown to have an effect, researchers think it has more to do with your brain sensing the saltiness of the food in your mouth versus that saltiness (and electrolytes) actually making it to the muscle in question.

So, what causes muscle cramps and spasms?

what causes muscle cramps - ae wellness

Exercise or heat-induced cramping is a precursor to heat stroke and is an indication that the body is overtaxed. For something like this, fluids and rest will usually help.

But what to do when you’re woken up in the middle of the night in pain?

Preventative actions are going to be far more effective than trying to snarf down a banana at 3am. Try stretching or massage before bed. Even just a few minutes of therapy ball rolling before you crawl into bed can help to relax any tissues that may be ready to cramp the second you fall asleep.

Plus, massage and movement will also improve the fluid flow throughout all of your bodies tissues.
The real question is when you are woken up by a muscle cramp, should you stretch or not?

Learn all about muscle cramps, how they happen (and what to do when it does) and more tips on how to prevent them in this recent episode of Anatomy with Alex, available below!

Watch my latest episode of Anatomy with Alex (below) to learn:

  • What causes muscle cramps and spasm
  • If you should stretch or not when you have a cramp
  • If bananas will help stop a cramp
  • How to avoid cramps and spasms all together

Tune in every Wednesday at 3:15 pm PST on the AE Wellness Facebook Page for Anatomy with Alex, my weekly show where I teach you anatomy and physiology in ways that are relevant to you in your life so you can maximize your mobility and live pain-free in your body.

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