Exercise and Muscle Cramps

When working out, it is important to monitor your body carefully in order to avoid spraining a muscle or causing other damage to your body.  After all, your goal is to develop a healthier body, not to cause more problems for it!  In addition to the possibility of tearing or spraining a muscle, another injury you need to watch out for is the muscle cramp.

What is a Muscle Cramp?

Muscle cramps occur when your muscle involuntarily contracts.  This contraction results in a great deal of pain to that particular muscle and it may actually occur after your workout is complete.  In fact, many people who experience muscle cramps experience them later while laying in bed as their muscles start to relax for their nighttime slumber.  This sharp pain can be quite uncomfortable and can make getting to sleep difficult.

Although muscle cramps occur most often in the legs, they can strike in other parts of the body as well.  Other areas that are also commonly affected by muscle cramps include the feet, arms, hands and abdomen.

What Causes Muscle Cramps?

In some cases, the cause of a particular muscle cramp is unknown.  For the most part, however, muscle cramps seem to be caused by muscles that lack flexibility.  Therefore, an important step in preventing muscle cramps is to stretch out before you begin your workout in order to warm your muscles up.  It is also important to stretch after your workout in order to cool your muscles back down. 

You can also help prevent muscle cramps by keeping your body well-hydrated.  Remember, you should drink plenty of water during your workout in order to keep up your energy level as well as to keep your muscles working at their optimum level.  Drinking plenty of fluids is particularly important when working out in hot weather, as your body will dehydrate much more quickly under these conditions.

How Do I Treat Muscle Cramps?

Muscle cramps often go away on their own without special treatment.  In many cases, they are not cause for major concern, though getting muscle cramps is an indicator that you should probably be drinking more water or doing a better job of stretching before your workout routine.  In order to help alleviate the pain, however, you might want to engage in some minor stretching or massaging of the area.  If you continually get painful muscle cramps despite keeping yourself hydrated and stretching before and after your workout, it is a good idea to discuss the problem with your doctor.