Leg Muscle Cramps:

A muscle cramp is a sudden, uncontrolled contraction of a muscle which really pains. Muscle cramps are most commonly experienced in the legs, and called a leg cramp or a charley horse. A leg muscle cramp occurs when the muscle suddenly and forcefully contracts. The most common muscles to cramp in this manner are muscles that cross two joints. These muscles include the calf that crosses the ankle and knee, the hamstring, crossing the knee and hip and the quadriceps which also crosses the knee and hip. Usually a leg cramp last less than one minute, but it may last several minutes before the contraction subsides. In some patients, the leg cramps occur primarily at night, and disturb the patient's sleep.

What Causes A Leg Cramp?

Though the exact cause of a leg cramp is not well understood, but there are some risk factors that are thought to contribute to this condition. They are muscle fatigue, heavy exercising, dehydration, high weight (not necessarily obesity) and electrolyte imbalances. The most common cause which is typically seen in patients who develop leg muscle cramps is exercising in an unusual way, meaning either more activity or some different exercise. Studies have determined that leg cramps are more common in young (adolescent age) and older (over 65) patients. Over-weight patients are more prone to developing leg cramps. Also, there are some medications that can cause side effects of leg cramping.

Few Ways to Prevent Leg Cramps:

Staying Hydrated - Though it has not been determined how dehydration and muscle cramping are related, but it is known that dehydration can influence leg cramps. Thus for preventing leg cramps, drink at least three full glasses of water each day, including one before bedtime. Also drink plenty of fluid before, during, and also after exercise.
Stretching Exercise - Stretching helps to relax muscle fibers. When working out, a good post-work out stretching routine will help to relax muscles and prevent cramps. Prevent vigorous exercise just prior to sleep.
Train gradually - it is important that one doesn't start vigorous exercising all of a sudden. Gradually build up an exercise program, and avoid sudden increases in activity. Never increase exercise over one week by more than 10% compared to the week before. Sudden changes in activities can also cause leg cramps.

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Muscle Cramps
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