The Most Common Causes of Leg Cramps and How You Can Prevent Them

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Leg cramps are something that almost everyone experiences at one point or another throughout the course of their lifetime. Leg cramps can occur at any moment and can result from a number of problems.

Many people think leg cramps are only something they can experience through exercise or over exertion, but they can result from other issues as well. If you experience a leg cramp you will know it because of the sudden, sharp pain that is experienced which can last up to a few minutes in the worst cases.

In order to prevent cramps, you need to take preventative measures to do so. You can always wait till they happen and try to treat them after the fact, but why do so when you can take steps to avoid it altogether?

The basics behind eliminating cramps revolves around keeping the body nourished, and getting enough rest. Other health problems you have may contribute to the potential of cramps as well, which is something else to keep in mind. If your cramps are so bad that you can’t even do simple exercise, you should see a doctor to get to the root of the problem.

In the case of the vast majority of people however, they can make minor modifications to their daily habits and lifestyle which can really reduce their chances of developing cramps. Most of these steps are relatively easy ones to take as well, leaving you no excuse to do otherwise.

Why Am I Suffering from Cramps?

Dehydration

Most people know that being dehydrated leads to cramps, however the problem lies in how they keep themselves hydrated. You should be drinking water and eating food to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day, especially if you are outside or doing some type of physical activity.

Many people make the mistake of first grabbing something to drink when they feel thirsty. At this point your body is already dehydrated and the onset of cramps can be on its way. Make sure to be consuming at least the equivalent of 8 bottles of water a day, from both food and drink to avoid dehydration.

Low in Minerals and Electrolytes

This is another subject many people think they know a lot about when in reality they don’t know enough which can do them harm. Our body needs electrolytes to function including the contraction of skeletal muscles.

When our body does not have enough of these electrolytes available our muscles lock up, or we experience cramping. We get these electrolytes from our diet, unfortunately most of us aren’t getting enough.

One of the most commonly known electrolytes is sodium, which is something most of us get enough of. However another important electrolyte we need is something called Potassium, and the majority of people in the United States don’t even consume half of what they should be daily, which can contribute to cramping and other issues.

Make sure you are eating plenty of foods high in these electrolytes, especially potassium. Foods like sweet potatoes, golden potatoes, bananas, avocados, yogurt, nuts and seeds are all great sources of these electrolytes.

Overuse

Many people are aware of what can happen with overuse during exercise and how it can cause cramping, however overuse can cause cramping long after your muscles have recovered later on in the day.

This is because not only is your skeletal muscle system used and under stress during exercise, but so is your nervous system which controls these muscles. Overuse of these nerves can cause them to become over excited, which can cause involuntary movement in the form of twitching and cramping.

If you find this to be the case, you need to give your nervous system as rest for a few days. Stretching prior to and after exercising can help to alleviate some of cramping as well.

Inactivity

Believe it or not just like overusing the muscles can cause cramping, so can underuse. Most people know that standing up for too long of a time can cause the leg muscles to cramp up from overuse and the opposite is believed to be the case when you are sitting for prolonged periods of time.

If you experience cramping form sitting down for long periods of time, the best solution is to get up and walk around periodically. If you have the opportunity to do so, you should be getting up and stretching every 30 minutes or so from your desk to move around and prevent cramping.