- WHAT ARE MUSCLE CRAMPS: When a muscle involuntarily contracts, this is called a spasm. When a spasm becomes forceful and does not relax, it is a cramp. In many cases, depending on which muscle is cramped, you can physically see muscle cramps. You’ll see a physical hardening of the muscle in question. Muscle cramps are painful and can make it difficult to move, depending on which muscle is cramping. Cramps often occur in your legs or feet, but they can also happen in your thighs, arms, hands, abdominals and other muscles. Muscle cramps occur more frequently as you get older, but people of any age can experience muscle cramps. Some muscle cramps last for only a few seconds, but they can also last for an hour or more. In many cases, a muscle will cramp several times until the issue resolves. You may also experience cramping of several muscles that usually work together. You may feel muscle soreness for some time after the cramping stops.
- WHAT CAUSES MUSCLE CRAMPS: There are a number of things that cause muscle cramps and the exact causes are not 100% known at this point. However, the most common reasons for muscle cramps are dehydration and electrolyte imbalances as well as mineral and nutrient deficiencies. Vigorous activity can also increase the likelihood of muscle cramps. This is especially true if you haven’t exercised in quite some time. For this reason, many people experience muscle cramps in the spring, since spring is often a time where people increase their physical activity after a long winter of relative inactivity. Muscle cramps caused by physical activity may come during the activity, but they may also only occur later on.
- HOW TO AVOID MUSCLE CRAMPS: You can prevent muscle cramps by exercising regularly throughout the year and by staying in good physical shape. It’s also important that you warm up your muscles prior to any vigorous physical activity, such as playing a sport. Do some stretches or light jogging before taking part in any intense physical exercise. This will reduce the likelihood of cramping. It’s also very important that you drink enough water, before, during and after exercise. As mentioned, dehydration can cause muscle cramps. As the weather gets warmer, you sweat more during outdoor exercise, making it even more important to stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle with you while exercising and drink from it frequently. You’ll also need to keep a balanced diet and include a variety of fruits and vegetables. This will prevent you from experiencing the mineral and nutrient deficiencies that often lead to muscle cramps. Muscle cramps can also occur if a person remains in a sitting or lying position for a long period of time. This is why many older people experience cramping. These types of muscle cramps can also occur during the night, which can make it difficult to sleep. It’s also important to wear proper equipment during exercise, especially when it comes to footwear. Ill-fitting shoes or shoes that place your foot into an unnatural position (such as high heels) can lead to cramping. If you are experiencing cramps in your legs frequently, it’s often a good idea to visit a specialist and to get shoes that provide proper support and positioning.
Posted by Dr. Scott Wilson | 27-03-2015
Muscle cramps are painful and can make living your daily life difficult. They are also quite common, meaning that most people will experience them at some point in their lives. But what is a muscle cramp and what can you do to avoid them? Here’s what you need to know: