Muscle cramps are an unfortunate occurrence that often happens after a rigorous exercise routine. This phenomenon happens when a muscle fails to relax after a contraction. These cramps usually occur in the arms and legs.
A muscle cramp begins as a contraction that occurs on its own. This involuntary contraction is called a spasm. If the spasm holds without letting up, it becomes a cramp. These painful contractions can often be seen or felt as the muscle hardens.
Dehydration can cause muscle cramping. Other causes of muscle cramps include vitamin deficiency, bad circulation, and certain medications.
Muscle cramps usually last a few seconds; but they can last 15 minutes or more. Cramps can usually be alleviated by gently stretching the muscles. A light massage to the affected muscles can also help reduce the pain.
Muscle cramps can be prevented by being sure not to skip pre-workout and post-workout warm-ups, exercises, and stretching. It is good practice to drink plenty of fresh water for the purpose of remaining hydrated before, during, and after a rigorous workout or other physical exertion.