It is not uncommon for people to have cramps in their muscles when they exercise. These involuntary muscular contractions occur suddenly and almost anywhere in the body. But the most frequently affected muscles are located in the calves and feet.
Muscle Cramps During Exercise Causes and Treatment
It is not uncommon for people to have cramps in their muscles when they exercise. These involuntary muscular contractions occur suddenly and almost anywhere in the body. But the most frequently affected muscles are located in the calves and feet. If you have experienced a cramp, you know that it is uncomfortable and can be very painful. However, cramps are not always caused by exercising. Sometimes they are influenced by other medical and behavior-related factors too. Too frequent cramps could also be a sign of an underlying health problem.
Endurance sports such as running and swimming are more likely to cause muscle cramps. And they usually occur at the end of the race. That is when athletes reach their maximum exertion.
Muscle Cramps Causes
Muscle cramps are not yet completely understood. But medical studies show that cramps are a result of muscle fatigue due to overuse, inadequate recovery time, or overload. This leads to a disruption of the normal electrical signals of muscle movement, causing involuntary contractions and stiffness in the effected muscle.
There are other factors that can contribute to muscle cramps, such as heat, cold, stress, lack of sleep and dehydration. Some medications can also cause cramps. People with certain medical conditions like Multiple Sclerosis are more prone to cramps.
Muscle Cramps Symptoms
What Not to Do?
When we do sports, our body needs more resources to keep up with the demands of the activity. This can be in the form of calories, water, and electrolytes. The more exercise we do, the more resources our body requires. Lack of vital resources could lead to cramps and other types of injuries. This is why it is important to take steps to prevent muscle cramps.
The pain of muscle cramps can be excruciating and last several minutes and even hours, depending on the severity. However, there are a number of things you can do to help relieve the symptoms of a muscle cramp.
1. Stretching: If you have a cramp, you'll want to relax the muscle as quickly as possible. When you stretch the contracted muscle, you are attempting to extend it back to its normal length. Hold for at least 30 seconds, let go then repeat. This has to be done with extreme caution so you don't pull the muscle too far. You should also stretch gradually and slowly to avoid any sudden movements that could turn a simple cramp into a more serious injury. Stretching is usually the first thing to consider because it provides immediate relief.
2. Warm and Cold Packs: Applying warm packs will help relax your muscles, especially if cold temperature caused the cramp. However in case of a more severe injury, then ice therapy would help ease the inflammation. Leave the packs for 10-20 minutes at a time.
3. Hydrate: Dehydration is a common cause of cramps. if you think you’re dehydrated, drink a lot of water. Wash your face, forehead and the back of your head with fresh water. This will help cool you down.
4. Rest: Sometimes, cramps can last for hours. So you should rest and avoid strenuous exercises. This will allow your body to recover and function normally again. When resting, do not elevate your injured part but keep it in a natural position.
5. Massage: Massaging your own muscles is a very bad idea. Unless you know what you are doing. Applying the wrong pressure on injured area could result in a more serious injury. Instead, you should get a professional massage by a certified therapist. A good massage can help relax the muscle and ease the pain. This is because it stimulates the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles.
Muscle Cramps in the Pool
Out of all sports, swimming is the one that is associated with the most muscle cramps. You are more likely to get one in a swimming pool than on land. Mainly because swimming is a very dynamic activity that requires a lot of energy. This can be exhausting especially when you are not used to it. In addition, your body moves differently in water which can trigger some of your less active muscles to work. The calf and foot muscles are particularly prone to cramping because they are stretched to their limits during swimming.
If you get a cramp in a swimming pool, it is important to stop swimming or exercising. Try not to panic and use up all your energy. Relax as much as you can by either submerging your head in the water and using your arms to get to safety. Or, you can lay on your back, cross your legs (the injured leg on top) and swim with your arms backward toward the edge. With both methods, relaxing is the key. If there is a lifeguard on duty, call for help.
Once you get to the side of the pool, hold the edge and stretch your muscles. Breathe deeply and do not attempt to leave the pool until you get rid of the cramp. Below are some of the pool stretching exercises that will help you recover from a leg muscle cramp.
Stretching Exercises in the Pool
Exercising for Strength
A strong muscle is a healthy muscle. In addition to stretching, you should also strengthen your muscles. Strength exercises keep your muscles strong and healthy. Focus on your legs because they are the foundation of your body. They carry your weight and give you support. For that reason most of the cramps happen in the leg area. I will go over some leg exercises to prevent muscle cramps and provide relief from these nasty side affects.
The following exercises should only be done after you've healed from cramps or other injuries.
Cramps are a natural consequence of prolonged sport activities. It is important to know the warning signs and prevent them. Maintaining good muscle health through proper stretching, exercise, and rest is the best way to avoid such injuries. If cramps happen at an unusual rate, check with your doctor for any underlying health issues. Exercising regularly helps maintain your cardiovascular health and other internal body functions. Living a healthy lifestyle can improve your physical performance and minimize injuries.
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