Causes and Treatment of Muscle Cramps during Exercise

Tuesday March 23, 2021 at 12:41 pm

Whatever we do, staying fit should be the motto of a person’s life. If the human body is not fit we cannot perform our day-to-day tasks properly. To stay fit, we should exercise regularly. Not doing any exercise can make you physically weak and ill. People also start doing gym to stay fit.


You are doing your regular exercise and suddenly you feel a lot of pain. You feel that you cannot stretch your arm or leg anymore; if you do you go through a lot of pain. Cramps occur when your muscle becomes hard, tense, and contacts. Cramps that occur during exercise are known as exercise-associated or exercise-induced muscle cramps.

Generally, the voluntary muscles are the conscious ones and we can control them. Cramps occur in the voluntary or skeletal muscles. During a cramp, your muscle contracts strongly against your will. They do not even tend to relax. It is a situation full of pain and frustrations. Muscle cramps mostly affect:

  • The muscles in your foot
  • Your calf muscles
  • Muscles of the front thigh(quadriceps)
  • Muscles that are at the back of your thigh(hamstrings)

Cramps generally occur for a shorter period, like less than a minute. Though it can give severe pain and the pain can last up to ten minutes. Your muscles can even feel tender for up to twenty-four hours. If you exercise again without allowing the muscle to relax, it may happen again. If you have a cramp, give the muscle time to recover first.

Causes of Exercise Associated Cramps

Though it is not known why cramps occur, there are mainly two reasons or ideas for it.

According to some older ideas or philosophies, cramps occur due to dehydration or low levels of various chemicals in the body. It is said that athletes who lose lots of salt with their sweat while they exercise or while doing gym are more likely to get muscle cramps.

Recent theories suggest that cramps occur due to muscle fatigue. It affects the way your nerves control the contractions of muscles. Recent theories also suggest that exercise-associated cramps occur when your muscles are weak, fatigued, and tired.

Exercise associated cramp has different causes in different situations. Several factors may work together to cause cramps. Muscle cramps more likely to happen if you:

  • Do endurance sports like marathon running, especially when the end of the event is near and you are exhausted.
  • By working physically hard, or by exercising in hot climatic conditions.
  • Just started doing exercise or gym
  • Just started with your training schedule
  • If you stretch for a long period before exercise

Chances of getting cramps increases when there is an increase in body mass index (BMI). Cramps occur more frequently as there is an increase in your age. If you have a long-term medical condition you are more likely to have muscle cramps.

How to Stop Muscle Cramps?

In case of a muscle cramp during working out, exercise or gym just stop what you are doing. Instead, take some rest and try to stretch the muscle gently and slowly. Do not panic while you get a cramp. Keep holding the stretched position for at least thirty seconds. You can also reduce the pain of your muscle and get some relief by:

  • Gently rubbing and massaging your muscle
  • In case you feel you are dehydrated, drink plenty of water and also try to have some salty food.

You should give your muscles rest and time for a full recovery. If you do not do this you are more likely to get another cramp.

Treatment for Muscle Cramps

In case you have a muscle cramp just relax, stretch, and give it time. Gently rub and massage the muscle as it will help the muscle to relax. Here are some stretching exercises you can try if you want good treatment for your muscle cramps:

  • Calf muscle: In case of a calf muscle cramp stand n a lunge position with your affected leg stretched out behind you. Push your heel towards the ground by applying pressure. Hold this, position for a minimum of twenty to thirty seconds. You can also try pulling your toes and foot upwards by holding it with your hand. Make sure to hold it for thirty seconds.
  • Small muscles and fibrous tissue: In this case, hold your toes and pull them upwards. Make sure to hold the position for a minimum of thirty seconds.
  • Quadriceps: In this case, stand upright, holding the top of your foot, and lift the ankle towards your buttocks.
  • Hamstring: In case of a hamstring cramp, sit up straight while extending both legs in front of you. Put your palms on the ground and try sliding your hand towards, your ankles.

Make sure to hold these positions for at least thirty seconds before relaxing.

Prevention of Muscle Cramps

As no one is assured how you had a cramp or the causes behind it, the best ways of prevention are uncertain. Though some of them are:

  • Always have a gentle warm-up before you start doing your gym or any heavy exercise. Always warm-up and stretch before proceeding to heavy exercise.
  • Always keep yourself hydrated by drinking water and fluids while you exercise.
  • Sweating more can make you lose electrolytes like sodium (salt). Losing salt from the body also increases the chances of cramps to occur.
  • Maintain a healthy diet if you exercise or gym regularly. A balanced diet is important for every individual.

If you are an athlete, consult a doctor in case you are facing serious problems with muscle cramps. Knowing the causes can help you get rid of them. Treatment can be done, but there is no other better treatment than giving your muscle time to recover on its own.

Most importantly do not overuse your muscles. Cramps also occur while sleeping if you remain in the same position for a long period. Also, inadequate blood supplies can make cramps happen. It is important to always stay fit and maintain a proper shape.

Also, remember to cut foods from your diet that contains caffeine and chocolates. Eat green vegetables for a good supply of nutrients. Maintaining these can help you get rid of your muscle cramps and probably you won’t feel a lot of pain.

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