If you’ve ever had a muscle cramp, sometimes called a charley horse, you know just how painful the experience can be. You might have heard that avoiding muscle cramps is as simple as staying hydrated; however, drinking plenty of water may be only a small part of the story. To help stave off cramps, it is important to understand what causes these muscles spasms as well as their warnings signs.
Common causes of muscle cramps include:
- Nutrient or electrolyte deficiency: When you engage in exercise, your body cycles through water, electrolytes, and nutrients in an effort to power your muscles. If you lose (and don’t replace) too much sodium, potassium, magnesium, or calcium, it may result in muscle cramps.
- Overexertion: Another common cause of cramps is the overuse of a muscle or muscle group. This is frequently seen in distance sports such as running and swimming where athletes tend to push their bodies for extended periods of time. Always listen to your body and if you feel a muscle beginning to fatigue, consider taking a break.
- Dehydration: Your body needs to stay hydrated to perform at its peak. Restrict your water intake for long enough and your muscles may begin to cramp up. Whether you plan on exercising or relaxing, always make sure that you get enough water.
- Side-effects of medication: Sometimes the risk of cramps are out of your control, such as when they are a side effect of a medication you regularly take. If you notice that a series of cramps is related to the time frame in which you take your medication, consider talking to your doctor about your options.
- Symptoms of other conditions: Muscle cramps are sometimes symptoms of much more serious conditions such as restless leg syndrome or kidney disease. If you have any reason to believe that your cramps are related to a bigger condition or last for extended periods of time, see a doctor immediately.
Muscle cramps can strike at seemingly unpredictable times; you might experience one while out for a run or be woken out of a deep sleep by a spasm. The truth is that how you treat or prevent a cramp will depend on why it is occurring. To get more information on battling persistent cramps, contact us today. Our lead Manhattan sports medicine doctor can help you on your fitness journey or in your quest for a pain-free life.
If you have questions about your fitness goals or health concerns, call (646) 798-1330 or schedule a consultation today.