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Muscle Spasms.... What Are They And Why Do They Occur?

It's happened to all of us at some point in our life. We are running, walking, driving, or just sitting and all of a sudden … BAM…. it hits without warning causing extreme pain. A muscle in your leg will become hard as a rock tightening and contracting. You lay there wondering what’s going on, well It’s the involuntary contraction of muscle fibers, otherwise known as a muscle cramp. It can occur virtually anywhere you have muscle fibers including the foot, calf, thigh, hands, arms, abs and neck. Literality any muscle is susceptible to go into spasms and eventually cramp.  When this happens sometimes all it takes and a good stretch or a good Chiropractor to get rid of the cramp. Trying to extend and massage whatever muscle is cramping can also solve the problem.

So. Why does this happen, and how do you stop them from occurring?

Muscles are made up of millions of muscle fibers that are connected together to from skeletal muscle ie; biceps, triceps quads. When these fibers start to spasm because of poor blood circulation, malnourishment of the muscle or overexertion it can eventually lead to a cramp. So be sure that you stretch properly before any athletic event no matter how insignificant the event may be. 


Dehydration along with deficiencies in magnesium and/ or potassium and even calcium in pregnant women can often lead to muscle cramps. So make sure that you are drinking plenty of water. I always recommend to my patients that they buy a 30-32 oz container and try to at least drink 3 or 4 of those a day.  Everyone knows that potassium and magnesium can be easily found in bananas, but you can also find high amounts in dried apricots, baked acorn squash, avocados, good wild salmon just to name a few. 


Malfunctioning nerves are probably the most concerning to people that get spasms and cramps because they have tried everything they know to fix the problem with nothing working. This problem can come from misalignment of the spine, poor biomechanical movement of the spine or improper function of the joint. You hear the term pinched nerve a lot and you will hear Chiropractors use the term Subluxation. Essentially they mean that the bones forming the joint are not aligned properly, not moving properly, or not functioning as they should therefore leading to the malfunctioning nerve that can cause the spasm that leads to the cramp that leads to the pain. Are you following the cycle?

To Recap.

A few reasons that spasms and cramps occur: 

  • Poor blood circulation,

  • Muscle malnourishment

  • Overexertion

  • Dehydration

  • Deficiencies in magnesium, potassium and possibly calcium

What are some things you can do to decrease or eliminate them?

  • Feed your muscles with appropriate nutrients

  • Stretch before and after any athletic event..... Yes even golf.

  • Drink plenty of water; at least 3-4 32 oz containers.

  • Incorporating foods that are high in potassium and magnesium such as:

    • Bananas Dried apricots Acorn squash Avocados Wild salmon

Visiting your Chiropractor- Last on the list but certainly not least and probably most important. 


Dr. Alex Paulk is a Chiropractor At North Atlanta Spine. 

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