[Written by Peter Nielsen].
Cramps — also called charley horses – afflict 39 percent of marathon runners, 79 percent of triathletes, and 60 percent of cyclists at some time, but they’re not alone! Cramps can occur anywhere and to anyone. Whether you’re young or old, extremely active or usually sedentary, chances are you’ve experienced a muscle cramp. Researchers have found that infants, the elderly, the overweight, and athletes are at the greatest risk for muscle cramps, which demonstrates how wide-spread they are!
During common cramps, muscles of your calf or foot suddenly become hard, tight, and extremely painful. They are are caused by muscle spasms, involuntary contractions of one or more muscles. While most common in the foot and calf muscles, the front and back of the thigh, the hands, arms, abdomen, and muscles along the rib cage are also common locations for cramps. They occur during, immediately after, or as long as six hours after a workout.
The specific factors that lead to muscle cramps has not been clearly defined, however there are several possible causes, including:
• Strain on the calf muscles while exercising.
• Insufficient stretching before working out.
• Muscle fatigue.
• Magnesium and potassium deficiencies.
• Spinal cord injuries.Pinched neck or back nerves.Poor blood circulation in the legs.
If you find yourself grimacing with charley horses there are a few things you can try!
• Eat foods high in vitamins and magnesium and calcium.
• Drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated.
• Stretch properly before exercise.
Muscle cramps usually go away in a few minutes, but if you experience them frequently for no apparent reason you may want speak to your doctor. Your body may be try to tell you something!
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