Have you ever been driving home from the gym after an intense leg session and suddenly felt your hamstrings region go into spasm? Not only does this normally resolve in a period of erratic driving as you bounce between your car seat and roof in an attempt to shake it off, but the pain is normally excruciating! Now we all know in life there are a lot of things much more severe and painful than muscular cramp, but that moment when it first kicks in until the moment that you finally manage to resolve it still gets you each and every time without fail.
Muscular cramps are not just confined to the inside of a car, they can commonly occur during exercise itself and although painful at the time, are often not overly concerning. However, if you regularly suffer with muscular cramps as a result of exercise then it might be worth reading on to discover the true meaning of your cramps and preventative measures you can put in place in an attempt to resolve them.
For starters, it’s important to consider what a muscular cramp actually is. Quite simply, it can be defined as an involuntary muscular contraction. This often results when the muscle in question is being over utilised or there is an underlying injury. Cramping can also be initiated during periods of dehydration where there are significant differences in either your fluid or mineral levels. Often these factors intertwine and can all play a significant role.
During exercise, any muscle which is utilised and involved in the movement action has the ability to cramp. Although this is the case, often it is the same muscles that cramp whilst others never experience this sensation. Previous research has identified that all major muscles within the lower limbs are prone to cramping.
This article has so far considered the definition of a cramp and the potential reasons for muscular cramping. We will know consider treatment and preventative measures which you, the athlete, can put in place should you ever require to do so.
Initially, let us commence with treatment before moving onto preventative measures. Normally, stretching the affected muscle will completely relieve cramping symptoms almost instantaneously. If the same muscle continues to cramp then placing it into a position of stretch and applying heat will also encourage the region to relax.
Cramping does have the ability to bring about micro tearing of the muscular fibres if the contraction is forceful enough. This will become apparent if the pain fails to subside after a period of time. If this occurs consider protecting the muscle in question and apply ice. Ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also be taken if required.
Last but definitely not least, let us consider any preventative measures which you can put in place. After all, prevention is better than cure. The first thing you can do is maintain your fluid levels. This might involve consuming sports drinks to also replace the electrolytes lost through sweating. Warm-up thoroughly before you start and ensure your target muscle is fully stretched and ready for all demands which your chosen activity entails. Finally, if you’re carrying an injury then consider a period of rest and recuperation before returning to sport.
We hope you’ve found this article interesting and informative. Don’t let muscular cramping get in the way of your training goals. Simply by implementing the above you will significantly reduce the potential for future cramping and discomfort.