Get Rid Of Your Muscle Cramps

Have you ever experienced a spasm in your calf and some kind of a constriction in your hamstrings when you are running? You are probably not alone. Exercise induced muscle cramps are a common occurrence in recreational as well as elite athletes. These cramps are sudden and can be perceived as mild twitches or may be very painful and above all can keep you out of action for some time. It can last from a few seconds to many minutes. Even though they are usually harmless, they may make it impossible to use the affected muscle for some time. It is often seen that the affected muscle feels harder than the normal to the touch. Our sports nutritionists have come across athletes experiencing a sudden spasm in the middle of the night after a rigorous training session or workout. Some people are more prone to muscle cramps in comparison to the others. It is always wise to consult a fitness nutrition specialist who can help in evaluating the cause of the cramps and offer solutions to reduce them.

But, despite cramps being a common phenomenon the real reason for cramps is still unknown.  However, there are risk factors that may predispose a person to getting more cramps than the others.  So, what are the risk factors for muscle cramps:

• Overuse of the muscle

• Dehydration

• Inadequate diet

• Not enough blood reaching the muscles

• Poor physical fitness

• Improper stretching and warm up

• Certain medicines

• Low levels of electrolytes due to excess sweat

• Higher exercise intensity or frequent use of a particular muscle

There is currently no magic pill that can avoid muscle cramping. However, sports dietitians or sports and fitness nutritionists suggest strategies in order to reduce the likelihood of the cramps.

• Have a nutritionally adequate diet: Making sure that you have the right eating plan not only on your training days but for the competition or race day will help in avoiding the cramps. Eating well during the training as well as on the D-day will allow your body to handle the nutrition in the right way – making your body more efficient at absorbing, storing and utilizing nutrients, especially carbohydrates.

• Be well hydrated: There is still no consensus on whether water helps reduce the risk of cramps during exercise. However, maintaining hydration during any exercise will ensure that there are no dramatic shifts in body fluids that play a role in abnormal muscle contractions.

• Replenish the electrolytes: It is seen that low electrolytes in the body is one of the main reasons for the occurrence of the cramps. Electrolytes play a role in the body by contracting and relaxing the muscles. Sodium is the most common electrolyte that is lost in sweat with water. If not replenished it can lead to hypernatremia. There is a likelihood of muscle cramps occurring if the concentration of sodium in the blood decreases though the evidence is inconclusive.

• Conditioning is important: Being well trained and conditioned will ensure that the incidence of muscle cramps is reduced. A thorough warm up and cool down is essential in a sport or any exercise.

• Reduce fatigue: Fatigue in some likelihood brings in muscle cramps so it is imperative you start the training or get into the game well rested.

• Stretch and massage: Stretching the affected muscle in the opposite direction of the muscle contracted and gently massaging it by applying slight pressure is found to be helpful in people who are affected by muscle cramps.

There is no single strategy that works full proof in avoiding muscle cramps. Hence, it would not hurt to try out all of the above mentioned strategies. Most muscle cramps are not serious. However, if cramps are severe or frequent connect with an online sports nutritionist or a sports dietitian who can help you not only plan a nutritionally adequate diet but also work out the different strategies with you in order to reduce your muscle cramp severity and frequency. This will arm you to fight the war on cramps.


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