And if electrolyte imbalance was implicated, then all the muscles in the body would be affected. But only muscles actively being used tend to cramp, particularly those that cross more than one joint, such as the calf muscle and hamstrings. These may be contracting from a shortened position when the knee is bent.
Muscle cramping is a common problem encountered by athletes and nonathletes alike. Defined as painful involuntary skeletal muscle contractions, cramps may be categorized as either nonexercise related or exercise related.
Whether day or night, your foot and calf muscles can spasm or cramp. This can happen to various muscles — not just in the legs or feet — though these cramps are often most uncomfortable.
There is no comfort in knowing that muscle cramps are very common and become increasingly frequent with age, especially with women.
A commonly thought reason for muscle cramps is a lack of certain nutrients. While this is true, there are also various other reasons that can cause these often unbearable muscle cramps. When it comes to diet and foods that can help prevent muscle cramps, Clark said it's important to consume a variety of foods which are high in the following nutrients...
Deep-vein thrombosis is often mistaken by both patients and doctors for something else. I was suspicious of what I thought was a runner's cramp, and got lucky.
“It is unknown which ingredient in pickle juice may initiate this inhibitory reflex,” Miller writes in the study. “We propose that it is the acetic acid (vinegar) in pickle juice, not the electrolyte content, which triggers this reflex.”
For people who tend to get muscle cramps at night, he suggests drinking Gatorade or Vitaminwater (both of which contain electrolytes) before retiring at night. Another preventive measure involves doing muscle-strengthening exercises before going to bed.
And cramps occur at the place where nerves meet muscle, says Miller. When the brain sends the signal for the muscle to move, "the signal does have to cross through tiny nerve twigs, or nerve terminals." Excessive signaling, excessive irritability — which may result from thinning and weakened nerves — seems to be the generator for cramping.
Here's how you can help prevent those tight, painful muscle spasms.
You’re wrapping up a morning run when one of your hamstring muscles balls into an angry fist of pain. Or it’s the middle of the night, and a sudden spasm grips your calf and forces you out of bed.
While they’re common—affecting roughly 37% of the population—muscle cramps have long been shrouded in mystery. For a long time, experts believed that muscle fatigue or some sort of fluid imbalance—brought on either by dehydration or inadequate amounts of electrolytes in the blood—could disrupt muscle homeostasis in ways that triggered involuntary activity. This theory was based on some well-established muscle cramp trends, including the fact that intense exercise can produce a cramp, and that cramps are more common in summer than in winter.
But new research complicates these old theories.
For those people who have seen their doctor and have had more serious problems ruled out, leg cramps can still be a great nuisance, and treating them can be a challenge (which in doctor speak means that we can’t always fix the problem).
If you've ever been awakened in the night or stopped in your tracks by a sudden charley horse, you know that muscle cramps can cause severe pain. Though generally harmless, muscle cramps can make it temporarily impossible to use the affected muscle.
Most cases of leg cramps can be relieved by exercising the affected muscles. Exercising your legs during the day will often help reduce how often you get cramping episodes.
Leg cramps are common. The cause is not known in most cases. However, some medications and diseases sometimes cause leg cramps. Regular calf stretching exercises may prevent leg cramps. Quinine tablets may be advised as a last resort if you have cramps regularly.
Muscle cramps in most people resolve on their own and medical treatment is unnecessary. Because of the spontaneous resolution, it has been difficult to determine the real effectiveness of medications.