The Latin word contrahĕre, translatable as “ contraer ”, derived in contractūra, which came to our language as contracture. This is the name of the prolonged contraction, which occurs involuntarily, of one or more muscles.
According to abbreviationfinder, contractures differ from cramps by their duration and intensity : while contractures are very painful and can last for several weeks, cramps cause less pain and end faster. In addition, cramps can be relieved at the moment with massages or lengthening exercises.
These spasms and contractions are produced by the loss of mineral salts and fluids from the body or by poor oxygenation. These disorders, in turn, can be generated by sudden movement, intense efforts or low temperatures. When the contracture appears, the muscle swells or stiffens.
Poor body posture, nervous tension and even a psychological problem can also cause a contracture. Treatment can be carried out with antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory drugs.
To prevent muscle problems, it is recommended to stretch and warm up the muscles before carrying out a physical activity and to drink isotonic drinks during and after exercise. It is also suggested to increase the consumption of foods rich in potassium, such as tomatoes or bananas.
Contractures generally do not need medical assistance. However, if the pain is very severe, a doctor can be consulted for treatment or to identify the exact cause of the muscle contraction, which can be linked to irritation of a nerve.
In most cases, therefore, the treatment we follow to alleviate a contracture is homemade, and is based on advice that is passed through experience. One of the most common is to take an aromatic bath, ideal for relieving pain. This requires a quarter kilogram of Epsom salts and five drops of each of the following essential oils: marjoram, lavender and rosemary.
For the best possible results, it is recommended to mix the salts with the essential oils before pouring the mixture into the bathtub. The coarse salt is also suitable to prepare a bath therapeutic to treat contractures. In this case you can also add essential oils, including verbena. A variant of this bath can be done simply by adding two glasses of vinegar to hot water, and then soaking for a minimum of ten minutes, until you feel that the muscles have relaxed.
If we prefer an ointment, then we can prepare an infusion of rosemary or thyme, let it rest for a few minutes, strain it and finally mix it with red or green clay until achieving a density comparable to that of a cream. It should be applied to the affected area while it is still warm and leave it for approximately twenty minutes to act.
Among the many recipes from eastern countries, a recipe based on ginger roots and cabbage leaves stands out, which must be roasted for an hour, cut into slices and applied on the contractured part. If necessary, we can fasten them with gauze. As with the previous remedy, the recommended time is twenty minutes, although the point at which we must remove the vegetables is when they have cooled.
The exercise is also highly recommended to treat contractures, although it should be done with caution and technical expertise to avoid worsening the situation. Stretches are essential before and after any sport or physical practice session, to help the body transition to and from inactivity.