What Causes Muscle Cramps?

Posted by Helen Potter on 23 October 2017 | Filed under Foot Pain, In Touch Physiotherapy, Tips

What causes muscle cramps?

Muscle cramps occur when muscles spasm uncontrollably. Any muscle can be affected, but cramps in the calf and foot muscles are very common.

While the exact cause of muscle cramps is unknown, there are a few factors that can increase your risk.

These include:

  • Dehydration
  • Being unfit
  • A poor diet
  • Muscle injury or fatigue
  • Physical overexertion.

You could also be low in some electrolytes and minerals that help your muscles and nerves function such as potassium, sodium and magnesium.

If you want to top up, good sources of potassium include bananas and avocados, leafy greens like kale and spinach and dairy products including milk and yoghurt. Leafy greens are also a great source of magnesium, along with lentils, chickpeas and nuts.

Can you prevent muscle cramps?

There are a few simple things you can do to prevent cramps.

  • Warming up and cooling down before and after exercising
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Eating a balanced diet.
  • Supportive footwear can also assist – a good reason to swap your heels for flats.

If a cramp does come on, try

  • stretching (if calf stand on your feet)
  • massaging the affected area,
  • applying an ice pack.

When to seek help

More often than not, cramps are harmless. However, they could be pointing to a more serious underlying medical disorder. If you find you’re cramping regularly, or the pain is severe, it’s best to book with your GP.

Edited from Medibanl Helen Potter Oct 2017

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