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Muscle spasms can occur in any muscle of your body, but usually skeletal ones (these are muscles that are attached to the bone directly or through tendons, such as your arms and legs.) such as ones in your thighs, arms, calves and in the arches of your feet. The pain may come and go, and generally people have associated the feeling with menstrual cramps and diarrhea.

Muscle spasms are often caused by a number of issues such as drinking too much caffeine, the nicotine and tobacco in cigarettes (usually affecting the legs), nutrient deficiencies (most commonly vitamin B, vitamin D and calcium) and dehydration. Most of the time they are harmless, other than being painful, but occasionally it can be a sign of a more serious issue.

Muscle spasms are extremely common and are more frequent in runners and athletes, as a strenuous workout can sometimes lead to muscle spasms. There are two types of muscle spasms - Clonic and Tonic. The first usually involves cycles of relaxation and contraction, whereas the latter is more painful, but short-lived.

Generally, massages can be very effective in reducing these, but in some cases it’s not always the right option. For example, splinting is what happens after you experience an injury - it creates painful cramps or spasms as a defence so that another injury won’t occur. If you are currently in an active spasm, massage isn’t a good idea as it may damage the muscle. Therefore, a technique called ‘reciprocal inhibition’ is often used. This practice works by stretching and massaging the opposing muscle, so as not to harm the muscle that’s already hurting, while also repairing it at the same time. If done correctly, it is very effective.

We can help

Osteopaths are trained to identify the cause of your musculoskeletal pain, including muscle spasms, and to use therapeutic manual techniques to bring fast relief from pain and improve movement. 

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