Why you get sudden muscle cramps (and what to do about it)

Those unexpected and unpredictable cramps that happen when you least expect aren’t just the bane of endurance athletes!

The sun is shining, you’re ready to get outside and pound the pavement and suddenly there’s a tight hard knot in your calf that is excruciatingly painful.

Or you’re enjoying a blissful slumber when you are jolted awake by an abrupt jolt of pain in your foot that ends all thought of sleep for the night.

What is muscle cramp?

A cramp is a sudden and severe involuntary muscle contraction and can last anywhere from a few seconds to 10 minutes. Cramps can occur during exercise, at rest, or during the night.

While cramps can happen in any muscle, they are particularly common in the leg muscle and feet, says the Mayo Clinic in the US. It says a cramping muscle may feel harder than normal to touch, or even show visible signs of twitching.

Who’s most at risk from muscle cramps?

Almost all of us will experience a cramp at some stage of our lives.

A study by the University of Newcastle in NSW, published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, found night-time calf cramping affects around one in three adults.

Other studies have shown older adults, those who are overweight, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions, such as thyroid and nerve disorders, are more at risk of cramps.

What causes muscle cramps?

There are a variety of types and causes of muscle “knotting” and overusing a muscle, muscle strain, dehydration and simply holding the same position for a prolonged period of time can all cause cramps.

In many cases, however, the cause isn’t known.

While most muscle cramps are harmless, some are related to underlying medical conditions according to a study published in American Family Physician. These can include inadequate blood supply, nerve compression and mineral depletion. So it’s best to see your health professional to ascertain the cause.

How can you avoid muscle cramps?

Aches, pains, cramps and mild muscle spasms can all be symptoms of magnesium deficiency, also known as hypomagnesemia.

A macro-mineral, magnesium is essential for a healthy human body and used by every single organ. In fact, every cell in our body contains magnesium and needs it to function. You can get magnesium in your diet from fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, green vegetables and wholegrains.

And yet Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows about a third of Aussie adults don’t get enough magnesium in their diets, so a supplement can be helpful if you aren’t eating enough.

Caruso’s Natural Health has developed a broad spectrum, sustained-release magnesium formula containing six different types of the mineral, which are slowly released into the body.

Best of all, it comes in a one-a-day formula making it easy and convenient for those of us with busy lives.

Other tips for muscle cramps

Don’t forget to stretch your muscles, particularly before exercising and try gently massaging the affected area if do experience a cramp.

Prevent dehydration and keep your fluids up by drinking plenty of good old H2o!

And check in with your GP just to make sure there are no underlying medical causes if cramps continue.

* This post is brought to you by Caruso’s Super Magnesium.  If symptoms persist consult your healthcare practitioner. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet. Always read the label.