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Muscle Cramps: What You Need to Know 

Muscle cramps are an involuntary and forcible contracted muscle that does not relax. Most muscle cramps occur due to one of the following factors:

  • Injury Protection: When you sustain an injury, the surrounding muscles contract to protect and splint the injured body part, protecting you from further damage.
  • Muscle Fatigue: Fatigued muscles are at a greater risk for strains. The body reacts with cramps to avoid potential injuries due to the fatigued muscles' vulnerable state.
  • Dehydration: Vigorous activities, especially in warm weather, can cause excess fluid loss. Without proper fluid restoration, your body will cause muscle cramping to limit further loss of fluids and electrolytes and to save fluids for vital body functions.

Tips for relieving muscle cramps:

  1. Stretching the muscle
  2. Gentle massage, including use of a foam roller
  3. Fluid replacement with water and electrolyte sports drinks, not energy drinks

Avoiding muscle cramps:

  • Proper hydration begins two days prior to an event, especially in warm weather
  • Drink 16 - 24 ounces of water about an hour before activity. Drink another 4 - 8 ounces immediately before starting and 6 - 8 ounces every 20 minutes during activity. Include a sports drink during periods of exertion 90 minutes or longer
  • Warm-up before and stretching after exercise help move fluids throughout the body
  • Avoid drinks containing excess sugar, caffeine, alcohol and carbonated water
  • Proper nutrition and food preparation

For a referral to a sports medicine physician, call 1.800.4BAYLOR.