Muscle spasms in chest can be quite ordinary to younger people, as the young have a tendency to think they are immortal in a sense and they blow it off as too many push-ups or heavy bench presses.
However, as we get older, it becomes alarming. We might think we are having a heart attack and rush to the hospital, only to discover it is a spasm. Wow! What a sigh of relief that is indeed.
There can be several causes of electrolyte deficiencies to bad posture or chronic coughing and sometimes possibly some more serious underlying disorders.
Regardless, chest muscle spasm symptoms, when they are chronic, should be something examined by a physician at some point. Let us take a look at some of the potential causes and solutions.
It is first important to understand what the muscles of the chest actually are. Surprisingly, they do involve muscles in the chest, but there are also muscles in the back which support the chest muscles.
They are all involved in movements of the arms and shoulders and in proper breathing.
So, spasms of these muscles can occur for any number of reasons. Many muscles are involved.
First, there are the pectoralis major muscles. These are the large muscles of the chest typically referred to as the “pecs.” They are the most obvious and the ones which bodybuilders boast the most.
Then there are the pectoralis minor muscles, running just below these. Next, there are the intercostals muscles just below the pectorals on the chest and they run along the ribs and assist with breathing while helping with pectoral chest muscle movement.
The coracobrachialis muscles, along with the pectoralis muscles connect to the humerus bone, scapula, and ribs to allow the arm to move forward while the teres major and the latissimus dorsi help you move your arms back, stretching the chest muscles backward.
Rotation of the arms and chest is achieved by the supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus, and teres minor.
These muscles run from the scapula to the humerus, or “funny bone, “and all of these are connected to the chest muscles. It seems confusing, but these are the chest muscles. Don’t worry; there will not be a test. You can check the Best Magnesium Supplements for Muscle Spasms.
Causes of Chest Muscle Spasms
Muscle spasms are basically electrolyte imbalances. Electrolytes are minerals. The minerals are calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, and potassium. There is a fine balance of these minerals.
When the balance of these minerals goes even slightly off due to deficiencies or dehydration, spasms of muscles result and the symptoms are extremely painful.
Pain from spasms is alarmingly distressing and sometimes feels as though a muscle is going to rip right off of a bone.
In extreme cases, rarely, the muscle actually will rip from the bone, but this almost never happens, so don’t fear.
It can happen at any age to anyone. Usually, a lack of proper nutrition coupled with a lack of water is the culprit and it is easily fixed.
When it comes to chest muscle spasm symptoms, medical attention should be sought just in case there is a more serious issue at hand.
Usually, there is nothing serious, though coronary arterial spasms can happen, particularly in those over the age of 40. It is best to be safe and call an ambulance just to be safe.
There may be no serious issue, but why take chances? Typically, it is just the usual electrolyte imbalance just like any other muscle spasm in the body.
The various chest or back muscles mentioned previously are contracting and going into spasm and the pain is vicious. Electrolytes and water are needed with some rest and ease.
The causes can be minor injuries such as pulled muscles or sprains or even fibromyalgia which has gone undiagnosed. Even medications can cause certain minerals to become depleted rapidly.
Maybe there have been missed meals or not enough fruits and vegetables in the diet. Sometimes it isn’t enough salt in the diet or just too much sweating and not enough hydration.
You know water is important and, as we get older, we need to be sure to get plenty of fluids. We can’t go as long without the proper fluids as we could when we were younger.
We have to take better care of ourselves. Also, pulling a muscle when you are trying to score a goal on the field against the younger ones is way more painful at 40 than when you were 20!
The pain is blinding and intolerable, so it can be frightening. Try fluids. Lay down. Get some fruit juices and some other folks with some gray hairs to bring on the fruit juices.
They will most likely understand. Get some ice cubes and sports drinks and anything with good electrolytes. Orange juice is loaded with potassium and magnesium.
It is one of the best cures, but it won’t cure a muscle pull. This will take rest and time. Some over the counter anti-inflammatory medications can help ease the pain, but it will take rest and time to recover.
At any rate, rest will be necessary and it will not hurt to get a check-up from a qualified physician, especially if there is a pulled chest muscle, which can happen more frequently as you get a little older.
Stress Fractures and Chest Wall Injuries
As we get a little older, we realize the importance of trying to stay fit, but our bones are becoming a bit more brittle.
There is a tendency to become more intense in the gym and get into some intense exercises, all with good intentions.
Sometimes there may be a notion to take this a bit too far and, over time, the bones develop tiny fractures known as stress fractures. These are not blatant breaks.
In other words, the bones don’t break outright. Tiny breaks or fractures develop over time until pain develops and muscle spasms will develop, particularly in the chest, causing chest muscle spasm symptoms.
Next thing you know, you end up at the doctor worried about heart problems only to discover you just have spasms due to stress fractures and chest wall injuries.
These are tiny injuries to bones and cartilage which inflame the muscles and cause spasms. It is quite painful.
Your doctor will tell you that your ribs are injured and probably prescribe some light painkillers and tell you to take it easy for awhile.
They will recommend some electrolytes and consistent hydration and nutritional changes. You should pay attention.
If you follow these protocols and rest, you can regain your strength and get back on your feet in a relatively short period of time.
The key to recovery is taking it slowly and getting through the mid-life crisis in order to move on and get going again.
You already know that fitness will keep you healthy and help you live a better, healthier life. It is just that you can’t do it like you could when you were 20 or 30, that’s all.
However, you can lead a life without all the spasms and pain. Eat a healthy diet and take care of yourself. Live well and be strong.
How To Stop Muscle Spasms In The Chest
According to Debilitating Diseases Website, In order to stop muscle spasms from happening in the chest, we need to first examine the causes of the muscle spasms.
As mentioned above muscle spasms are usually caused by electrolyte imbalances. Muscle spasms can also be caused in part by dehydration.
Anxiety, stress and poor sleep can contribute to a number of bodily issues, including muscular spasms.
It is important to make sure to get a decent number of uninterrupted hours of sleep and to manage anxiety with breathing exercises, yoga, or other outlets.
Poor posture, overuse, and bad form while lifting heavy objects can all contribute to chest muscular pain and muscle spasms.
According to WebMD, Other potential causes include fibromyalgia or pulled muscles of the arms, shoulder, or chest.
Fibromyalgia is usually characterized by joint pain and extreme fatigue, however, muscle twitches can be experienced as this disease is an issue with how the body interprets and responds to pain signals and nerve impulses.
Medical attention should be sought out for muscle spasms that are frequent and/or are painful, as there may be a more serious underlying issue such as coronary arterial spasms. If you feel chest tightness and chest pain, immediately seek help.
If you experience true muscle spasms in the chest, electrolytes, water, and rest will help.
Electrolytes include minerals and salts like magnesium, salt: sodium chloride, and potassium.
Electrolytes have a role in facilitating nerve function by carrying electrical signals throughout the body.
Electrolytes can be found in various sports drinks such as Gatorade and can also be found in natural sources such as coconut water in large amounts.
A good balance of fruits and vegetables in your diet can contribute to your electrolyte reserve.
Excessive sweating can potentially drain you of your electrolyte balance and that’s when you start getting symptoms, usually in the form of cramping or sudden spasms.
In the case of coronary arterial spasms, calcium channel blockers, L-arginine supplements, and nitrates will relax the muscles and prevent spasms, according to Healthline.
Other medications and some diet restrictions may be ordered by your doctor, such as a low-fat and low-sodium routine.
Remember that chest palpitations differ from muscle spasms completely, in that they signal heart rhythm irregularities.
This is another issue that should be addressed by a doctor. Chest palpitations usually feel like a small flutter in your chest, without the external presentation of muscle tremors.
In order to prevent unwanted muscular spasms, consider light stretching before doing an activity that heavily uses those muscles, such as lifting or push-ups.
Also, consider doing some stretching post-exercise to help your chest muscles recuperate if they played an active role in your workout. Perform each stretch 2-3 times and try to hold each pose for 15-30 seconds.
Here are some stretch variations specifically for the chest by Ace Fitness.
- Behind the Back Elbow to Elbow Grip
- Bent Arm Wall Stretch
- Side Lying Parallel Arm Stretch
- Extended Child’s Pose on Fingertips
- Above the Head Stretch
Behind the Back Elbow to Elbow Grip opens the chest outward as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. You reach behind your back to grab the opposite elbow.
Bent Arm Wall Stretch helps you to isolate each side of your chest using each arm. Place your hand perpendicular to a wall, doorway, or column with the elbow bent and press your body forward.
Side Lying Parallel Stretch has you on your stomach on a mat or soft surface with your arms out in T position. Roll to each side using the opposite arm and you’ll feel a gentle pull on each side.
Extended Child’s Pose on Fingertips has you kneeling on the ground with your bottom on your heels, with knees spread as wide as your hips.
You have to walk your hands out in front of you as far as you can with your fingertips, pushing your chest toward the floor.
Above the Head Stretch is one of the most basic seated stretches. With hands on either side of your head, interlock your fingers and squeeze the shoulder blades together to broaden the chest.
Heat applied to wherever you’re having spasm can help to relax the muscles. Massaging the affected area can bring more blood flow and ease the unwanted activity.
According to Dr. Axe, muscle spasms can be treated with hydration, heat, Epsom salt baths, postural adjustments, stretching, and a proper balance of electrolytes and B vitamins.
Epsom salt is made up of primarily magnesium sulfate and can be activated with hot water. A natural anti-inflammatory, it gets absorbed by the skin in a bath, reaching cramping or contracted muscles.
Fun fact: Epsom salt is an FDA-approved laxative for use with constipation, therefore, it can definitely be used to relax large muscle groups.
Check out this cool video from Dr. Jo. She is a doctor of physical therapy who will show you three other stretches you can perform for tight or sore chest muscles.
You can do these stretches anywhere in your home at any time, even during moments of muscle spasm to relax that excited tissue.