What Causes Muscle Cramps?

The involuntary, painful muscle contractions that are cramps can be temporarily
debilitating and can occur suddenly. Cramps can occur in any muscle but most
commonly occur in the calf and hamstring muscles. There is common belief that
muscle cramps are caused by dehydration and sodium chloride/salt losses during
exercise in hot conditions however this is not actually the case. Other popular
theories such as low potassium levels or insufficient carbohydrate intake are
also becoming more unlikely. The hypothesize with the most backing behind it suggests
that cramps result from changes in nerve activity which is triggered by fatigue.

This is all well and good but I hear you asking: “How can get rid of my cramps??”

If a cramp comes on, stretching the muscle can instantly relieve your symptoms. As cramps are related to fatigue, correcting biomechanical abnormalities, improving muscle imbalances and posture, and conditioning your body via specific training can help prevent muscular cramps from occurring. Physiotherapy can help by addressing the postural, biomechanical and muscle imbalance issues but also to provide soft tissue therapy to release any muscle trigger points and reduce muscle tightness which may be contributing. A specific eccentric strengthening exercise program can also be prescribed by your physiotherapist to help prevent cramps.

By Todd Purser

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