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Article by Infofit

Leg Cramps and Charley Horses Come Without Warning!

Leg cramps can affect any athlete

Are You Having a Charley Horse or a Leg Cramps?

Cramps can affect any athlete or person in a sporting event. Be it when you are taking a nap, jogging or playing in a tennis match; when it happens, your calf muscles or the arch of your foot suddenly becomes tight, hard and spasms make it extremely painful. You are having a Charley Horse or a muscle leg cramp.

Charley horse muscle leg cramps come without warning; these involuntary contractions are commonly experienced in the foot and calf muscles, front and back of the thigh, the hands, arms, and abdomen. Even if treatment is immediately applied (such as medication, ice, massage and stretching), the contraction can be prolonged and accompanied by painful spasms making it difficult and pointless to return to that exercise during that day. Interestingly, leg cramps can occur not just during exercise but also several hours after exercise.

Cramps Develop When Over-Training

Leg Cramps develop when over-training or excessive muscular overload has taken place. The physical demand is higher than the level the muscle has been conditioned for.  In prevention, the best method is to get personal training, where your trainer will ensure progressive, wise and relevant athletic conditioning to what you are training for. This includes a decent warm up, such as  some low-level plyometrics, dynamic stretching and a post-workout cool down and stretching.

Keep Well Hydrated

Dehydration/electrolyte imbalances are a common cause of leg cramps. It is very important to keep well hydrated before and during your workout or entering competition. Fitness trainers should note that ‘Glycogen Loading’ is also excellent for water retention.

Electrolytes are chemical substances that transform into ions; ions are molecules that drive electrical impulses throughout the body. When there is an electrolyte deficiency, the muscles fail to contract properly. If you drink only pure water, the electrolytes in your tissues become diluted. In restoring your electrolyte balance, the kidneys must excrete this water from the body, carrying electrolytes with it.  Excellent natural sources of electrolytes is bananas or coconut water the other option is to add an electrolyte replacement mix to your water.

Cramping Can be Caused by Magnesium and/or Potassium Deficiency

Magnesium  is the most common mineral deficiency seen in athletes. Dark leafy greens and squash seeds are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium deficiency is easily restored by eating a bananas.