Muscle Cramps and How To Prevent Them
What Are Muscle Cramps
It’s happened to lots of us, we’re working out or playing a sport when all of a sudden we get cramp in one of our muscles. It can be very painful and last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes, often causing us to stop exercising or playing. A cramp is an involuntary muscle contraction where the muscle spasms and becomes hard. The exact cause of which is unknown but it affects people of all fitness levels old and young. Some of the possible reasons as to why they are thought to occur are as follows:
Injury prevention – It is thought that your muscles can cramp if they feel they are being overstretched to prevent injury or if they have been overstretched and injured to compensate for this.
Dehydration or Over Hydration – In muscles the water and electrolyte balance is crucial. If you are dehydrated then there is a higher concentration of electrolytes and if you are over hydrated then the electrolytes will be too watered down and either of these could cause cramp.
Low levels of the minerals potassium, calcium and magnesium, which are all needed for correct muscle function. Calcium and magnesium specifically affect the activity of the nerve tissue and low levels of these can increase the excitability of the nerve endings and their corresponding muscles.
Lack of flexibility in the muscles.
The build up of lactic acid in the muscles due to excessive activity, especially when exercising in hot weather.
Tips To Help Reduce the Likelihood of Cramps
It will be a case of trial and error, the same thing will not work for everyone in preventing cramps but trying some of these ideas may help you.
Drink plenty of fluid before exercising and try to just sip your drink regularly during exercise. If exercising for longer than an hour try to drink a sports drink containing electrolytes.
Always stretch before and after exercising to help your muscles return to their normal length and also increase your flexibility.
Try to gradually increase the intensity of your exercise programme, don’t overload your body too much too quickly.
Try eating a banana before exercising it is a great source of potassium and I have found this one seems to work for me and may help you.
Work on improving your overall general health and fitness. Improving cardiovascular fitness will improve your bodies ability to deliver blood rich in nutrients, to the working muscles.
Try adding a little sea salt to your cooking to increase your mineral intake.