Causes of Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps are defined as an involuntary contraction of a muscle. These can last from a few seconds, all the way up to several minutes.
The most common causes are:
Mineral & nutrient deficiencies.
The body is not very well conditioned for the activity being performed and lack of flexibility.
Dehydration is extremely common in athletes, even in those who do not think they are dehydrated.
Dehydration, along with nutrient deficiency is the second leading cause of muscle cramping.
The 4 main electrolyte minerals are sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These minerals play a direct role in muscle activity.
Mineral & Nutrient Deficiencies
The 4 main electrolyte minerals sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, together with the following nutrients are essential for healthy muscle response, Vitamin B6, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B1.
Tri-Methyl-Glycine(TMG)(Betaine): Tri-Methyl-Glycine(TMG), significantly lower levels of lactate, and delay muscular fatigue and allow athletes to train harder, for longer without cramping. Tri-Methyl-Glycine(TMG) supplementation also increases nitric oxide which is responsible for vasodilitation a critical process for endurance athletes. It also helps regulate cellular fluid volume, which could further promote muscle pump and overall muscle health and size. Betain(TMG) increases muscle strength, power, and endurance due to betaine's ability to increase levels of anabolic substances while supporting a healthy balance of the catabolic hormone cortisol.
L-Glutamine(Cebrogen): Cebrogen supplementation can minimize breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism. It is the primary transporter of nitrogen into the muscle cells which is responsible for increased blood flow. During intense training, Cebrogen levels are greatly depleted in your body, decreasing strength and recovery. It must be maintained during extreme training.
Cebrogen plays a key role in protein metabolism, cell volumizing, and anti-catabolism which also assist in cramp prevention
Methyl Sulfonyl Methane(MSM): MSM improves energy and gives quicker recovery from strenuous workouts. It reduces cramping and soreness. It also improves the quality of the blood and blood supply. It acts as a powerful detoxifier.
L-Aspartic acid: L-Aspartic acid increases stamina and endurance levels in athletes. It also helps transport minerals to the cells which assists in cramp prevention.
Restricted blood flow to a working muscle can also cause muscle cramping. More so older individuals, rather than younger ones.
Lack of Necessary Flexibility
A muscle that is overly tight can also cause muscle cramps. When flexibility is not sufficient for the activity being performed.
Prevent Mineral & Nutrient Deficiencies
The 4 main electrolyte minerals are sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These minerals play a direct role in muscle activity. Deficiency in one or more of these can lead to cramping, especially if the body is deficient during exercise.
Sodium: Sodium, or salt, is one of the key electrolytes. Low sodium levels are often a factor in causing muscle cramps. A pre workout drink that contains electrolytes is a good idea. For each hour of moderate to high intensity exercise, 1.5+ grams of sodium is lost via sweat.
Potassium: Potassium is one of the electrolytes that is lost while sweating. Potassium deficiency is a major factor in causing susceptibility to muscle cramps.
Magnesium: Magnesium is another electrolyte, and deficiency can also contribute to muscle cramps. The RDA is approximately 420 mg per day for adults. Highly active individuals will need much higher amounts of electrolytes, due to minerals lost during sweat.
Calcium: Calcium is an electrolyte which is important for muscle function. Deficiency can increase the risk of cramps. Calcium deficiency is very common among female athletes. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, so it is indirectly related to muscle cramps.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium. It also plays a role in magnesium absorption, and probably, in the absorption of other mineral as well, to a smaller degree.
Other Vitamins & Minerals: Nutrients are constantly being found to have more effects in the body than was previously thought. While electrolyte deficiency is a very common cause of muscle cramps, there are many other nutrients, that also play a role in preventing muscle cramps. Taking a daily Multi Vitamin is essential for healthy muscles.
Muscle Cramps in Sports.
The best thing to do is to do your best to ensure that you do not get cramps in the first place.
Make sure that you are fully hydrated before beginning an athletic activity.
Drink enough water all the time, not just before the game.
Make sure that you have optimum levels of electrolytes in the body.
You should strive to maintain sufficient levels all the time, and not just before a game.
Stretch The Muscle. Stretching a cramped muscle out can help to temporarily relieve a muscle cramps.
Boost Circulation. When a muscle is cramping, circulation may be restricted to that area. Vigorously massaging & kneading the affected muscle will help to boost circulation to the area.
Apply Ice. Apply the cold application(ice) tightly for 10-15 seconds, then alternate with the hot application for 10-15 seconds.
Restore Electrolytes & Fluids. Restoring electrolytes can help to eliminate the cramp. Sip a sports drink that contain sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.