What helps against cramps: The best tips & tricks against muscle tension

Was hilft gegen Krämpfe: Die besten Tipps & Tricks gegen Muskelverspannungen

Muscle cramps often occur after intense physical exertion. They can severely impair muscular performance to the point that simply walking becomes torture. The most common causes are overloading and fatigue of the muscles.

In order to get rid of the pain as quickly as possible, we have summarized the main causes of cramps in this article. We'll also give you tips and tricks on how to get rid of it easily.

the essentials in brief

  • During a spasm, the protein threads actin and myosin combine. They get stuck and can no longer be separated from each other.
  • The most common cause of cramps is overuse and exhaustion of the muscles (4). This usually happens as a result of extreme stress (sport).
  • The cramps often do not trigger directly after training, but during the rest phases. That's why you often get cramps when you go to bed. Continuous stretching or magnesium can prevent and also relieve cramps.

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Definition: what is a muscle spasm and how does it develop?

A muscle spasm is a painful contraction that occurs on an involuntary basis. There are different strengths and duration of a contraction. In this state of tension, the protein threads, actin and myosin get caught and can no longer loosen. (1)

Background: What you should know about muscle cramps

Before we give you tips on how to relieve your cramps, you should learn some background information about muscle cramps.

In the following section we have compiled and answered the most frequently asked questions for you.

What are the causes of muscle tension?

The following list is a summary of the most common causes: (1,4,8)

  • Vigorous physical activities
  • dehydration
  • electrolyte loss
  • magnesium deficiency
  • Diseases
  • pregnancy
  • medication

Muscle cramps are usually caused by fatigue or overexertion of the muscles. This happens mainly during physical activities such as competitions. The combination of extreme exertion and physical stress promotes muscle tension.

Other causes can be profuse sweating, vomiting or diarrhea. This results in fluid and electrolyte losses, which can cause muscle tension.

Magnesium deficiency (2) can also play a role. In addition, specific diseases such as diabetes, neurological diseases, vascular or circulatory diseases promote the occurrence of muscle cramps. Pregnancy and medication can also trigger this.

What symptoms can occur?

Muscle spasms manifest themselves as the muscle hardening and becoming painful. They often appear after exercise. However, they can also occur during this time. In cyclists and soccer players, it mostly affects the calf muscles, as these are used the most during this sport.

Normally, muscle tension occurs during a resting phase. Such a phase is usually found in bed at night.

The duration of a spasm cannot be precisely determined; it can last for seconds, minutes or hours.

How can I relieve a muscle spasm?

We have summarized a table with different solution methods for you. They will help you get rid of your cramp as quickly as possible.

solution therapy Effect
stretching and movement easy to do without prior knowledge
massages requires practice for fast execution, selective treatment possible
hydration slow effect, as it has to be absorbed by the body first
Infusion / Medication very effective, only necessary in difficult cases (8) (doctor)
warmth after a few minutes the tension is released
magnesium Duration of treatment approx. 10 minutes until relaxation is noticeable
electrolytes Supplementation of electrolytes in case of a deficiency

You can relieve a muscle spasm by passively (or actively if possible) stretching or moving the affected muscles against the direction of contraction. (5)

There are two different ways to stretch for calf cramps.

In the first variant, you press the soles of your feet firmly on the ground and bend forward. It is best to remain in this position for a while.

The second variant is performed while sitting, preferably on the floor. You take your feet in your hands and pull yourself forward towards your shins. Here, too, you remain for a few seconds or until the tension is over.

Intensive massages can also relax the muscles. It is also important to drink enough fluids. However, you should not drink liquids that are too cold, tea or water at room temperature are best.

If you have very severe cramps, you should see a doctor. Depending on how intense the cramp is, you may be given an IV and/or prescribed muscle relaxant medication for two to three days.

Heat treatment (bath, sauna, heat ointment) (8) can also be used. If there is a magnesium deficiency, we recommend taking magnesium supplements or switching to a magnesium-rich diet.

Treatment with quinine (medicine) has a positive effect against nocturnal muscle cramps. Due to the high level of side effects, it is only carried out in exceptional cases and under strict controls. (7)

The treatment also depends on any previous illnesses and the cause of the muscle cramp.

How can I prevent muscle cramps?

We have compiled the best methods for combating cramps for you and listed them here. They will help you get rid of your cramps.

  • Stretch and warm up before exercise (3.5)
  • Do not exceed the load limit
  • regular breaks between training sessions
  • slow increase in training
  • supply sodium
  • Avoid coffee and alcohol
  • Magnesium intake through a balanced, mineral-rich diet
  • drink plenty of fluids (8)

You can prevent muscle cramps by establishing a pre-exercise warm-up and stretching routine. Night cramps in the calves can also be prevented by regular passive stretching. (5)

Stretch 5 minutes before going to sleep. You should also avoid muscular imbalance and compensate for fluid and electrolyte deficits. Incorrect sports equipment can also be a cause of cramps. (1)

Which is why you should pay particular attention to the right equipment. Before strenuous training sessions, it is advisable to drink enough liquid the day before.

What is the difference to a muscle hardening and imbalance?

muscle hardening

A muscle hardening is also referred to as a hard muscle strain or tension. It is perceived as an unpleasant, unfamiliar and performance-impairing feeling of tension. (1)

Tension can be caused, for example, by incorrect loading or overuse of the loaded muscle. The blood flow is reduced and there is an accumulation of metabolic products. (1)

These lead to muscle fiber swelling, which under certain circumstances can also lead to damage to the muscle structure. High training intensity or monotonous movements irritate the nerve fibers and lead to pinched nerves.

New sports shoes can counteract incorrect strain and thus prevent poor posture and muscle hardening.

Muscular imbalance

A muscular imbalance is an imbalance between the muscle group and the opposite function. Usually there is a balance between the muscle (agonist) and the counter movement of the muscle (antagonist). (1)

In the case of the abdominal muscles, these are the back muscles and vice versa. If one muscle group is weaker than the other, an imbalance occurs and leads to poor posture, such as a hunched back.

How to get rid of muscle cramps in the legs?

If calf cramps occur suddenly, it is advisable to stretch the painful area (5) and initiate a light massage. Walking a few steps can also help. The pain usually goes away after a few seconds.

However, it can also happen that a feeling of tension remains, as with sore muscles. A warm calf shower or a calf wrap also proved to be an effective method of eliminating cramps.

What helps against menstrual cramps / abdominal cramps?

The list gives you a good overview of the best methods to eliminate abdominal cramps.

  • Massages and heat Methods such as massages (6), which stimulate blood circulation or use warming objects, have been known for a long time. We recommend using a hot-water bottle, heating pad or heat patch as a heat source.
  • Tea : For tea, try a combination of lady's mantle, chamomile, and cinquefoil. They are known for their relaxing effects. Take a tablespoon of each medicinal herb and pour hot water over it. You should let this mixture steep for 15 minutes so that the herbs can fully unfold and relieve the cramps.
  • Magnesium and Calcium : A magnesium deficiency in combination with exercise is the most common cause of muscle cramps. Basically, magnesium ensures ideal bone function, a healthy energy metabolism and supports our nervous system. An existing magnesium deficiency not only causes muscle tension (cramps) or muscle twitching (e.g. eyelid). More severe limitations can also develop (dizziness, headaches). In addition, the minimum substance inventory is influenced and reduces the existing minerals in the body, the calcium and potassium concentration.

get rid of cramps!

Try our liposomal magnesium now

  • Enriched with zinc, selenium, chromium and taurine 🧪
  • Developed for people who often suffer from cramps 💪
  • Get a 21% discount now 💰*

Sunt Icon

*The discount is automatically applied to the product

What helps against cramps: The best tips & tricks for cramp-free muscles

So that you can get rid of your cramp as quickly as possible, we have a few tips that will help you. Read them carefully and write them down if you can. Especially the home remedies could be very interesting for you.

Massages against muscle spasms

In this video you will find helpful tips on how to use special pressure points to relieve your calf cramps. It starts with a light stretching exercise and then treats two pressure points on the outside and inside of your leg.

You can also use your hands to gently massage (6) your calf muscles to stimulate blood flow and relax the muscles.


As already mentioned under "Relieve building cramps / menstrual cramps", magnesium plays a major role in cramps. Not only because of the effects of the deficiency, but also because it affects the entire mineral balance and thus several deficiencies can arise. (1)

Calf cramps in particular can often be traced back to a magnesium deficiency. However, this does not automatically lead to tension in the muscles.

A magnesium deficiency favors the development of calf cramps in particular. Other deficiencies of sodium, calcium, potassium, iodine and zinc can do the same, since they are responsible for the communication between nerves and muscles.

Magnesium supports muscle relaxation and can also be taken preventively. (2,5) Calcium, on the other hand, is important for muscle tension (muscle contraction).

People who often suffer from cramps should pay attention to a diet rich in minerals. Sufficient fluid intake is also essential, as this also keeps the body's electrolyte balance in balance.

In the case of recurring cramps, a higher magnesium intake can be considered sensible for a certain period of time. Adults should consume 350 mg/day of magnesium. You can get this amount through food or additional supplementation. Note, however, that overdosing can lead to diarrhea.

Foods containing magnesium:

  • cocoa
  • oatmeal
  • linseed
  • sunflower seeds
  • Cashews

Home remedies for cramps

calf wrap

For the treatment with a calf wrap, dampen a towel with hot water. Squeeze it out and wrap it around the calf. After the towel has cooled, remove the towel. Repeat the process until the spasm resolves.


Intensive stretching of the tense area can relieve a cramp. If you have calf cramps, sit down on the floor and reach up to your shins, or even better, your feet. If this step is too difficult, grab a resistance band and wrap it around the middle of your soles.

Now pull the band so that you feel a stretch. A second option would be to take a stepping stance in front of a wall. Bend the front leg and press the back leg into the ground with your heel. You should now feel a slight pull in your calf.


Regular stretching can not only relieve cramps, but is also preventative. It is also the ideal activity to increase your body flexibility. (Image Source: Dane Wetton / Unplash)


Despite the pain, you should move when you have a cramp. Walking back and forth lightly and slowly also improves blood circulation in your legs and can relieve your cramps.

Hot bath

The application of heat is gentle and easy to use, making it ideal for children or the elderly. In addition to the warmth of the hot water, you can also refine the full bath with relaxing herbs.

contrast showers

Alternating between cold and warm water also stimulates blood circulation and has a relaxing effect.


Cramps can vary in duration and intensity. They often occur after intensive training sessions, as this causes fatigue and overloading of the muscles.

You can reduce or even completely eliminate your cramps by stretching, massaging and supplementing with magnesium. If you have chronic or recurring cramps (8), you should see a doctor.


      The public health portal of Austria offers independent and quality-assured information about muscle cramps, hardening and muscular imbalances.
      This study analyzed the correlation between magnesium and the reduction in muscle spasms. Seven existing studies were compared. The result was unclear, which is why no clear statement can be made about magnesium.
      This study tested whether stretching before exercise had a preventive effect on muscle cramps. The study found improved flexion, but no prevention of muscle tension.
      This study provides information on the neurological perspective on muscle spasms. The most common cramps are due to overloading of the muscles. Other causes can be: insufficient hydration, muscular overload, electrolyte imbalances, dysthyroidism, vitamin deficiency, renal insufficiency, liver cirrhosis, drug-toxic side effects.
      The study describes the symptoms of a cramp and provides information about the methods of resolution. Calf cramps can be prevented by stretching the calf muscles. In addition, magnesium or quinine sulfate is used to dissolve them.
      90% of all women suffer from pain or cramps during menstruation. A strong reduction through rhythmic massages could be determined.
      This study by the German Society for Neurology deals with the topic "Methods to combat muscle spasms".
      The examination deals with the causes of cramps, preventive measures, risk groups and provides information on which symptoms you should consult a doctor.
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