Muscle Cramps Spasms Information

Muscle Cramps Spasms Information

A muscle cramp or muscle spasm is an extremely common occurrence that almost 95% of the population will experience at one point or another, albeit for a vast array of different causes.


Muscle Anatomy

There are three primary types of muscles found in the human body:

* Skeletal muscle - voluntary muscle, such as the bicep, that can be consciously controlled.
* Smooth muscle - involuntary muscle that is found in the walls of organs and other structures such as the bladder and stomach. Smooth muscle isn’t under conscious control.
* Cardiac muscle - Found in the heart and is involuntary in that it isn’t under conscious control, but is structurally akin to skeletal muscle.

What Are Muscle Cramps And Spasms?

Voluntary muscle contraction occurs from a persons’ conscious effort to make a specific movement. This is a natural process of alternatively contracting and relaxing to produce movement.

A muscle spasm occurs when muscles involuntarily contract momentarily, without the person willing it to do so. The person looses the ability to relax or control the muscle for a few seconds.

When the spasm is sustained or is forceful, it’s called a cramp. The sustained contraction, depending on the muscle involved, can often be seen or felt from the skin surface as the involve muscle hardens from the violent and prolonged contraction. The cramp can last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur multiple times before dissipating.

Spasms and cramps may affect grouped muscles, a single muscle, or a portion of a single muscle. Cramping may also occur in some involuntary muscles, such as the uterus, bronchial tree, and intestinal tract.

Symptoms Of Skeletal Muscle Cramps

* pain, often severe, over the affected muscle
* pain that may cause debilitation until the cramp subsides
* local swelling, tenderness, and soreness over the affected area that may last a few days after the cramping
* a firm knot atop the affected muscle that may be felt or seen externally

Types And Causes Of Skeletal Muscle Cramps

When it comes to skeletal muscle cramps, there are innumerable causative agents - muscle overuse; muscle injury; muscle wasting diseases; dehydration; B vitamin deficiencies; circulation, blood, and nerve diseases; metabolic conditions; pregnancy; side effects of certain medications, such as Aricept, Evista, Tolcapone; and so forth. That said, skeletal muscle cramps are generally categorized into four distinct groups:

1. True cramps

This is the most common type of skeletal cramp and can involve part of one muscle, all of one muscle, or an entire muscle group. Most often caused as nerves becoming overly excitable and stimulate a corresponding muscle(s). True cramps may occur from any of the following:

* as a protective mechanism to stabilize an area of injury, such as after a sprain, strain, or broken bone, or as a direct result of the an injuring blow to a muscle.
* during or after a vigorous activity, after long period of being stationary, or during a repetitive moment.
* cramping may frequently occur at night, a type of cramp commonly referred to as rest cramps or nocturnal cramps.
* chronic dehydration, such as from taking diuretic medications, or acute dehydration, such as excessive sweating.
* any other acute or chronic shifting of bodily fluids, such as in dialysis.
* sodium depletion (usually associated with dehydration or fluid volume shifts)
* low blood levels of magnesium, potassium, or calcium can cause nerve excitability

2. Tetany Cramp

Tetany causes the nerve cell in the body to become “activated,” thus stimulating the muscles and causing widespread spasms and cramps to various muscles. The name tetany cramp is based on the toxic effect tetanus has on the nerves, but a tetany cramp can also be caused from calcium and magnesium deficiency.

3. Contractures

Contractures occur if a muscle is unable to relax for an extended period of time, beyond that of a cramp. The constant spasm activity is due to a lack of the energy chemical, ATP, in the muscle cells preventing muscle fiber relaxation.

4. Dystonic cramps

This type of cramp stems from muscles being stimulated in a movement that they weren’t needed in making. Common locations are the jaw and eyelid. The arms and hands may also have dystonic cramps from repetitive movement - commonly referred to as writer’s cramp, typist cramp, or pianist cramp.


Massage Treatment

These Sports Massage Techniques are of great value in pain relief; circulation stimulation; dispersing blood and fluid accumulations; swelling reduction; and relaxing muscle spasms, especially when used alongside the Sinew Therapeutics massage oil, liniments and soaks.




This stage is characterized by swelling, redness, pain, and possibly a local sensation of heat, indicating inflammation. If coolness makes your pain feel better, then the Acute Stage Treatment is recommended.




The acute stage starts the moment an injury occurs and lasts until the swelling and inflammation are gone. The swelling is the result of the blockage of blood, tissue fluids and circulation in the muscle because their normal movement has been disrupted by the force of the injury. Just like cars muscle up behind a traffic jam, causing congestion, exhaust and overheating; blood and fluids muscle up behind the injured muscle, causing pain, inflammation, lumps and swelling.

The sensation of heat is due to the warming action of the blood and fluids overheating in the injured muscle as they muscle up and accumulate. Stiffness and decreased mobility are due to spasms in tendons and ligaments that have contracted reflexively beyond their normal range from the impact of the injury.

As ligaments and tendons stretch and tear, blood from ruptured blood vessels becomes trapped in the local tissues. As the trapped blood clots up, it sticks the tissues together creating adhesions. Adhesions cause pain, inflammation and restricted movement because the layers of tissue that used to slide smoothly across one another now adhere and snap which interferes with normal functioning. It is essential to break up clotted blood as quickly as possible to prevent adhesions and scar tissue from forming.

During the acute stage it is very important to restore normal circulation to the muscle, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, reduce swelling, and reduce the redness and heat associated with inflammation. By restoring the flow of blood, fluids, and circulation in the muscle, then pain is relieved, damaged tissues can regenerate with healthy functional tissue, and the muscle can strengthen and regain it's mobility.




1. Apply the Sinew Herbal Ice on your muscle to reduce redness, swelling, and inflammation while dispersing accumulated blood and fluids to help restore normal circulation to the muscle. This first-aid treatment is used in place of ice to significantly speed up the healing process. It reduces the swelling and inflammation more effectively than ice, allowing you to more quickly regain range of motion. Acute Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

Ice is not recommended because it does not help repair damaged tissues and keeps everything in the injured area frozen, causing the stagnation of blood and fluids and the contraction of muscles, tendons and ligaments. In Chinese sports medicine ice is not used and is considered a culprit in injuries that donít heal well.

2. Massage your muscle with Acute Sinew Liniment to relieve pain, reduce swelling and inflammation, break up clotted blood and stagnant fluids, and stimulate circulation of blood and fluids to help cells quickly repair damaged tissues. Sinew Herbal Ice can be used in-between applications.

3. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.





This stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel pain, stiffness, weakness, and/or sensitivity in cold and damp weather. If heat makes your pain feel better, then the Chronic Stage Treatment is recommended.



The chronic stage begins once the swelling and inflammation are gone, but you still feel aching pain and stiffness. This is because there are still accumulations of stagnant blood and fluids in your muscle that are blocking circulation and blood supply to damaged tissues, creating residual pain, stiffness and weakness. You may actually feel hard nodules like sand in the tissue, indicating accumulation, calcification, and adhesions, which all cause pain, stiffness, and joint instability.

Your muscle may feel more sensitive to the cold and ache in cold and damp weather due to impaired circulation. When you move your muscle you may hear a clicking or popping sound from the tendons and ligaments slipping very slightly in and out of their natural alignment indicating weakness and joint instability, causing chronic pain and a cycle of reinjury. These symptoms are often the result of failure to treat the injury properly from the outset and overicing.

Increasing circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues is very important in treating chronic injuries because tendons and ligaments do not have an extensive direct supply of blood. That is why chronic injuries can be slow to heal. Increasing local circulation also prevents cold and dampness from penetrating the injured area, preventing pain and stiffness.

During the chronic stage it is very important to break up remaining accumulations of blood and fluids, and increase circulation and blood supply to the damaged tissues. By increasing circulation and blood flow in the muscle, then pain and stiffness is relieved, and the tendons and ligaments can strengthen to restore stability.



1. Soak your muscle with the Sinew Relaxing Soak to relax muscles and tendons that are in spasm, ease joint pain and stiffness, and improve range of motion. The Sinew Relaxing Soak is particularly useful if you feel tightness in your muscle. The soak can be used by saturating a towel in the liquid and applying it to your muscle. Acute Sinew Liniment can be used in-between applications.

2. The Sinew Sports Massage Oil is recommended for use before and after exercise, sports and strenuous activity. It warms and stimulates your muscles, increases circulation and relieves tightness, hence improving your performance and helping to prevent injury.