How To Prevent Muscle Cramps

Large glass of cold water

The feeling of pain is something that most of us want to avoid. It’s uncomfortable and it hinders the things that we want to do. However, pain can also be a sign of a greater issue at hand.  In terms of muscle cramps, it might not just be a ‘charlie horse.’ Muscle cramps can sometimes signal that you have other issues going on.

What is a muscle cramp and why does it happen?

Muscles cramps are the involuntary contraction of a muscle in your body – meaning that you didn’t cause the muscle to contract. There are a number of reasons why a muscle might cramp as well as number of reasons that are unknown.

Some of the more common reasons for muscle cramps are strains and sprains of the muscles and ligaments. When you injure yourself by overextending a muscle or a part of your body, the muscle can become too stretched out and will overcompensate by cramping.

Dehydration and too few electrolytes

Other muscle cramps are caused by an imbalance of nutrition in the muscles themselves. People who do not drink enough fluids or drink too much fluid during a workout session can get muscle cramps. In the muscles, there is a delicate balance of water and electrolytes.

When the muscle is dehydrated, it will cramp from having too many electrolytes in it; while the muscle that has too much water in it will also cramp because of the lack of electrolytes. Muscle cramps are some of the warning signs for dehydration as well as for hyponatremia (too little salt/electrolytes).

Another cause of muscle cramps can be the build up of lactic acid in the muscles. If you’re pushing yourself too hard during a workout, your body isn’t able to burn off all of the lactate that it is producing and lactic acid forms, causing that burning sensation in your legs. And that sensation can sometimes lead to a feeling of muscle cramps after a workout.

Tips for preventing muscle cramps

There are many ways to reduce your chances of muscles cramps. First of all, you will want to always keep yourself fully hydrated during a workout. For workouts of shorter than an hour, water is just fine.

Drink a few sips whenever you feel it is necessary and you should be fine. For longer workouts, you will want to drink a sports drink that has been watered down. Because you are working out harder, you need more than just water to maintain the proper balance of electrolytes in your body.

Another way to prevent muscle cramps is to make sure that you are training consistently. Your body will build up a resistance to muscle cramps if it is used to the exercises that it is doing. It’s when you push too hard or try something that you haven’t trained on that leads to muscle cramps.

Potassium can help prevent muscle cramps

You can also increase your intake of potassium to help prevent muscle cramps. Things like bananas are great sources of potassium and can help you stay cramp free. However, using potassium supplements is not advised as your potassium balance can be easily upset and cause problems.

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