Muscle Spasms – What are they?


Otherwise known as muscle cramps, spasms happen when a muscle involuntary and forcibly contracts and cannot relax.  They are extremely common and can affect any muscle in the body.

Usually spasms involve part or all of a muscle or several muscles in a group. They are most common in the thighs, foot arches, calves, hands, arms and sometimes along the ribs.

Who can get muscle spasms?

They can occur at any time to anyone, whether young or old, sedentary or active.  They can happen when walking, sitting, performing exercise or even sleep.

So what does a muscle spasm feel like?

They can range in intensity from mild twitches to severe pain.  The cramping muscle may feel harder than normal to the touch and/or appear visibly distorted.  Typically they can last from seconds to minutes or longer and may recur many times before going away.

So what causes muscle spasms?

Doctors aren’t always sure why they happen but a few common triggers can set them off:

Low in electrolytes – muscles depend on minerals such as potassium and magnesium to work properly.  If you are running low on them, your body sends you  a message with cramps and spasms.  Exercise or heavy sweating can make levels low, you might also lose too many electrolytes after a bout of diarrhoea or vomiting.

Not drinking enough water – if you don’t get enough to drink your muscles will be more likely to twitch and spasm.

Too much caffeine – caffeine can get you started in the morning and pull you out of the afternoon slump, but too much can trigger muscle twitches in various parts of the body.

Pinched spinal nerve – when spinal nerves leave the spinal cord, they pass between the bones of the spine to specific parts of the body, sometimes the discs between the bones of the spine rupture and move, pinching the spinal nerve in the process.  You may feel sensations and changes in the muscles that that nerve controls.

Insufficient warming up before physical activity – It is very important to warm the muscles up before attempting any exercise or physical activity.

How are muscle spasms treated?

Stop doing whatever triggered the spasm then:

  • Gently stretch and massage the involved muscle
  • Hold it in a stretched position until the spasms stop
  • Apply cold to sore and tender muscles or heat to tense or tight muscles.

Should you require any further information or would like to speak to a member of our team, please contact us on Luton 01582 579687 or Hitchin 01462 420077, alternatively e-mail us on or



Peter Heale Chiropractor in Hitchin and LutonFrom the team at Heale's Chiropractic Clinics
Over 30 years of helping people in Hitchin and Luton and the surrounding areas of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire

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