Muscle cramps are common, and despite a lot of research, there seems to be no unifying cause for them.
That being said, there are many causes - and several solutions - that can work differently for different people.
We'll cover the mechanics of muscle cramps, and the ways you can prevent them and get rid of them in this video.
If you've ever had a muscle cramp you know how horrible they can be.
Muscle cramps are involuntary, intense contractions of skeletal muscles. You can't do much about them when you're experiencing one because the muscle is very powerfully contracted.
Stretching doesn’t work because that muscle is so clamped down it’s not going to even budge and can even sometimes react by cramping even harder. My advice is to very gently massage the muscle until it relaxes to the point where you can begin to try to stretch it.
But why do you get muscle cramps in the first place?
Several theories here - and they all apply:
Electrolyte imbalance - magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium all work together to keep muscle contraction and relaxation working smoothly. When one is off, the others can be too - leading to a tendency toward cramping.
Dehydration is a common cause as well. One of the oldest theories of why we cramp, dehydration is something that often gets overlooked. Staying up on hydration (half your body weight in ounces per day) can limit cramping in a certain number of people.
Overuse - high intensity exercise over a period of time can leave some people prone to cramps. This can be any repetitive type sport - tennis, running, swimming, etc.
Age - as we advance in age we become more susceptible to cramping. This may tie back to hydration and electrolyte imbalances as well.
Other issues like blood flow problems (diabetics), pregnancy and certain prescription medications can increase the chances of getting cramps.
There's never one single cause of cramps - a person's individual factors need to be taken into account - and in our experience it often takes several approaches to get rid of them.