Muscle cramps occur when a muscle involuntarily contracts without relaxing for a prolonged period causing pain and discomfort. Almost everyone experiences a muscle cramp at least one time in their life. Here are 5 of the most common reasons why you might encounter a muscle cramp.
Overworking muscles can cause them to cramp, especially if you fail to stretch or warm up before beginning any strenuous activity. Muscle cramps are very common in runners who go extended periods of time without resting the legs and feet. Any activity that involves vigorous movements or standing for extended periods will make muscle cramps more common. Muscle cramps do not necessarily show up during or immediately after the activity, but rather most commonly appear hours later.
It may sound odd that resting can cause muscle cramps since it is the opposite of overworking a muscle. This type of muscle cramp is most common in older adults that live less active lifestyles, but can occur at any time during your life regardless of age or level of activity. Most commonly known as rest or night cramps, they occur when your body finds a comfortable position and does not move for an extended period. Each muscle in the body has a twin that moves together in opposition. While one muscle in your leg is relaxed, another will be contracted. By not switching positions every once in a while, the contracted muscle will eventually become fatigued and cause the cramps.
A pinched nerve has a high potential to cause muscle cramps. A pinched nerve in your spine has the potential to cause a muscle cramp to occur in your legs or back. Since your spine is connected to your entire body, cramps could occur in different areas of your body depending on where the nerve is located. The most common is in the lower back which will affect the muscles in your legs and feet.
Bodies with lower levels of calcium or magnesium are at a higher risk of experiencing muscle cramps. These minerals are vital for your entire body and especially the health of your muscles to keep them in working order. When your body doesn’t have enough calcium or magnesium, the muscles begin to fatigue and cramp.
The pain caused by poor blood circulation is not actually from muscle cramps. However, the pain is often indistinguishable between the two and very commonly mistaken for muscle cramps. Poor circulation causes an inadequate amount of oxygen to flow into the muscles and for lactic acids, and other chemicals to build up that will cause cramp-like discomfort.