Although they are usually harmless and actually quite common, leg cramps can be both uncomfortable and painful. In this article, we provide an overview of the reasons why we get leg cramps and offer tips on how to reduce the likelihood of getting them in the future.
What are leg cramps?
Leg cramps are also known as Charley Horses (named after baseball pitcher Charley Radbourne who often experienced these during gameplay) can be defined as sudden and involuntary contractions of the leg muscles. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. One way to relieve a leg cramp is to gently stretch the cramping muscle. It is an experience that most of us have had. They usually come out of nowhere and happen at the most inconvenient times (and not always when we are alone, if you get my drift).
Leg cramps are more likely to occur during or after strenuous activity, but that is not always the case. They can often happen out of the blue, seemingly for no reason at all. In some people, leg cramps can be so persistent that they effect daily functioning and lead to other issues like lack of sleep.
Gaining a better understanding of the causes of leg cramps can often lead to relief from them. Continue reading for some reasons that leg cramps happen, and what you can do about them.
One of the main causes for leg cramps is dehydration. According to Dr. Mark D. Peterson, “athletes and avid exercisers deal with cramps all the time.” These are most likely to occur in the summer when it is easier to forget to drink enough water.
Why can being dehydrated lead to experiencing leg cramps? The answer is not 100% but there is speculation that it might have to do with he fact that fluid depletion can lead to hypersensitive nerve endings. This can be influenced by exercising in hot conditions, which leads to more loss of fluid via sweating heavily.