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What are muscle spasms?

Causes, prevention, and treatment by Marina Amin, PTA

We all know that awful, sudden pain known as a muscle spasm. But what causes it?

A muscle spasm occurs when your muscle involuntarily, uncontrollably, and forcibly contracts and then does not relax. These spasms can happen to anyone at any time: while walking, exercising, lifting something, or even while sleeping. Muscle spasms can involve part of the muscle, or the whole muscle anywhere on your body. Some people are more prone to get these spasms: athletes, pregnant women, and people over 60 years old.


What causes muscle spasms?

· Neurological causes due to abnormal nerve stimulation, nerve compression.

· Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

· High intensity exercises and muscle overuse.

· Sitting for long periods with incorrect posture.

· Not enough stretching.

· And of course, stress.


How do you prevent muscle spasms?

· Stretch your muscles regularly. (This means every day or every other day.)

· Perform flexibility exercises regularly.

· Drink plenty of water and include electrolytes especially during hot weather.

· Move your body! Couch potatoes get plenty of muscle spasms.


How do we treat muscle spasms?

· Apply heat to help the muscle relax.

· Slowly stretch the affected muscle.

· Massage the muscle using hands, massage roller or a massage gun.

*Be extremely careful if using a massage gun at home. Ask your therapist to show you the proper technique to avoid injury.


Sometimes, muscles need to be strengthened through physical therapy or Pilates to keep you less likely to experience muscle spasms. If you are experiencing on-going muscle spasms, make an appointment so we can determine possible causes, and then treat the area to alleviate any pain.


About the Therapist: Marina graduated from The College of Physical Therapy at Cairo University in Egypt. Her studies included: Orthopedic, Neurology, Pediatrics, Burn, and Post-Surgery therapies.

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