Cramps – Why Do They Strike?

Muscle cramps – they strike during exercise; they strike during work hours or even when you’re drifting off to sleep. If you thought they were unavoidable, this may not be the case.

So, what causes cramps?

Cramps are caused by muscle spasms, an involuntary contraction of one or more muscles. In addition to the common calf and foot cramps, it is common for cramps to be present in the quads, hamstrings, neck, hands, arms, the abdomen and muscles along the rib cage.

The most common reasons for muscle cramps could include:

  • Poor blood circulation – Constriction of the arteries that pushes blood to your legs can generate cramp-like pain in your legs and feet while exercising. These tend to subdue soon after you stop exercising.
  • Overexertion of the muscles while exercising
  • Insufficient stretching before exercise
    Muscle fatigue
  • Dehydration – be weary of diuretics! While some medication tends to cause the flushing of fluid from our bodies, coffee and alcohol may have the same effect. Be sure to drink plenty of water!
  • Mineral depletion – Too little potassium, calcium or magnesium in your diet can contribute to leg cramps.
  • Malfunctioning nerves, which could be caused by a problem such as a spinal cord injury or pinched nerve in the neck or back

Can factors INCREASE my chance of cramps?

Yes, indeed they can! Factors such as:

  • Age – as you get older, you may lose muscle mass, causing the remaining muscle to be overstressed.
  • Dehydration – athletes or people who perform in hotter conditions and lose more fluid are more susceptible.
  • Pregnancy
  • Medical conditions – you may be at a high risk of cramps if you suffer from diabetes or even a thyroid, liver or nerve disorder.
  • Cramps are in actual fact, a very common occurrence. By simply assessing the common reasons listed above and altering your approach, could play a part in decreasing your chances of cramping up.

But how can I treat camps?

Stay tuned for part 2 next week, in which we will be revealing how to treat the common cramp!