Muscle cramping is a common occurrence for many athletes. One study found that among 2600 triathletes, 67% of these individuals reported some type of muscle cramp during or after exercise .
While the exact cause of muscle cramping is still to be determined, many risk factors have been identified.
- Electrolyte Imbalance
When you sweat, you lose a lot of fluids and electrolytes from your system which can throw off your body’s critical balance of electrolytes. Electrolytes play a crucial role in muscle contraction and relaxation. For this reason, if you fail to replenish your body’s optimal fluid and electrolyte levels, you could experience muscle cramping.
If you are training or racing in the heat, these high temperatures and/or humid conditions can also lead to a higher risk for dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. You will then subsequently be at a higher risk for muscle cramping as well.
- Muscle Fatigue
Muscle cramps can also happen when your body isn’t necessarily dehydrated. Another theory for why cramping occurs considers the nerves that are connected to muscles and control their actions. If a nerve begins to act abnormally, then it would subsequently stimulate the muscle to contract and relax in an abnormal way as well, resulting in muscle cramping. Increased muscle fatigue is one potential reason why a nerve might begin to act abnormally and therefore leads to muscle cramps.
To avoid this often uncomfortable and sometimes painful experience, you need to fine tune your hydration game plan to avoid the risk factors mentioned above. By working one on one with one of our practitioners, we will calculate your unique sweat rate and help you work towards tolerating more fluids in your system. To get started, click HERE.
- Kantorowski P, Hiller W, Garrett W, Douglas P, Smith R, O’Toole M. Cramping studies in 2600 endurance athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 22(2):S104, 1990
- Maughan, R. J., & Shirreffs, S. M. (2019). Muscle Cramping During Exercise: Causes, Solutions, and Questions Remaining. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 49(Suppl 2), 115–124. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-019-01162-1