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Thread: Why do we get muscle cramps?

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    A cramp is an unpleasant sensation caused by contraction, usually of a muscle. It can be caused by cold or overexertion. Illness or poisoning can also cause cramps, particularly in the stomach, which is referred to as colic if it fits particular characteristics.

    Menstruation also is highly likely to cause cramps of varying severity in the abdomen. Most of this is attributable to the passing of coagulated blood through the cervix. Menstrual cramps can be treated with ibuprofen, stretching exercises or the application of heat through such means as warm baths or heating pads. Menstrual cramps that do not respond to self-treatment can be a symptom of endometriosis or other health problems. A woman experiencing severe cramps should consult a gynecologist.

    Electrolyte disturbance may cause cramping and tetany of muscles, particularly hypokalemia (a lack of potassium) and hypocalcemia (a lack of calcium).


    There are two basic causes of cramping. One is inadequate oxygenation of muscle, and the other is lack of water or salt. Cramps from poor oxygenation can be improved by rapid deep breathing, and stretching the muscle. Cramps from lack of salt and water can be treated by stretching the muscle, drinking water and eating salty food (or drinking salty water). Pounding on the muscle can increase soreness.

    Muscle cramps can be treated by applying a soft massage on the cramped muscle, streching the muscle and applying heat or cold. Heat improves superficial blood circulation and makes muscles more flexible, so some people find that heat is more soothing for muscle cramps than applying ice.

    What happens in a cramp is that lactic acid builds up because of normal anaerobic muscle metabolism. When the muscle burns sugar without enough oxygen, it makes lactic acid. The lactic acid finally becomes concentrated enough to trigger the contraction of the muscle. When the muscle lacks salt, the nerves firing the muscle are unable to recharge properly, causing a similar effect.

    Nocturnal leg cramps are involuntary muscle contractions that occur in the calves, soles of the feet or other muscles in the body during the night or (less commonly) while resting. The duration of nocturnal leg cramps is highly variable with cramps sometimes only lasting a few seconds and other times several minutes. Soreness in the muscles may remain for some time after the cramp ends. These cramps are more common in older populations but may happen to anyone.

    Nocturnal leg cramps should not be confused with restless legs syndrome, a crawling sensation that is relieved by walking or moving around. Although uncomfortable, restless legs syndrome typically does not involve cramping or pain.

    (extracted from wikipedia.com)

    from my recollection of A level biology, the salt in question is potassium ions.
    Last edited by zekai; 3rd October 2005 at 09:42 AM.

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    Unfortunately these 'nocturnal leg cramps' are causing me to lose sleep and leave me in sheer agony for the next 2 to 3 days.

    Anyone with these 'nocturnal leg cramps' knows how to solve this problem?
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  3. #23
    Senior Member Canew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    Thanks to all who have contributed articles and comments.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    Quote Originally Posted by zekai

    Nocturnal leg cramps are involuntary muscle contractions that occur in the calves, soles of the feet or other muscles in the body during the night or (less commonly) while resting. The duration of nocturnal leg cramps is highly variable with cramps sometimes only lasting a few seconds and other times several minutes. Soreness in the muscles may remain for some time after the cramp ends. These cramps are more common in older populations but may happen to anyone.

    Nocturnal leg cramps should not be confused with restless legs syndrome, a crawling sensation that is relieved by walking or moving around. Although uncomfortable, restless legs syndrome typically does not involve cramping or pain.
    i got this early in the morning.. walked alot and exercise. jia lat.. me old already ah? ahahahahaa

  5. #25
    Senior Member +evenstar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    Quote Originally Posted by jsbn
    Unfortunately these 'nocturnal leg cramps' are causing me to lose sleep and leave me in sheer agony for the next 2 to 3 days.

    Anyone with these 'nocturnal leg cramps' knows how to solve this problem?
    I sometimes wake up suddenly with leg cramps. Just relax, stretch the legs a bit, stand up and try to walk about..
    eat. drink. shoot

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    Quote Originally Posted by jsbn
    I pull my leg muscles (yes, its my real legs, not the 'leg') whenever I'm sleeping.

    Kinda silly when I have to limp to work or take MC cos I pulled my leg muscle whilst I'm sleeping...

    I dun think its the lack of water or warm-up eh?
    i also got this problem with my left calf muscle while i sleep

    the same spot CONFIRM will cramp when i run 2.4km or shuttle run

    i used to be able to run long or short distance without any muscle cramps when i was still in army

    after ORD for a few years later...now my left calf muscle will cramp after running few hundred metres.

    i have done lots and lots of stretching and drink enough water on the night before and on the actual day of the run

    i notice that whenever i try to exert force or use strength, my left calf muscle will cramp immediately. eg. doing leg press in gym

    i am still in mid-20 leh...did i hurt muscle permanently without knowing?
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  7. #27
    Senior Member +evenstar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wai

    i notice that whenever i try to exert force or use strength, my left calf muscle will cramp immediately. eg. doing leg press in gym
    Same problem with me when I'm playing soccer. Whenever I kick a ball hard, my right thigh will hurt. Physio said that it was due to the muscle being too tense up..
    eat. drink. shoot

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    Quote Originally Posted by +evenstar
    Same problem with me when I'm playing soccer. Whenever I kick a ball hard, my right thigh will hurt. Physio said that it was due to the muscle being too tense up..
    too tense up? sometimes when i run after a bus also will cramp one

    i used to be able to run <8min for 2.4km without sweat, now only barely can pass

    i still have the stamina and strength to run faster, but i dare not to run too fast because the calf muscle will cramp so badly until i cannot even walk.

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wai
    too tense up? sometimes when i run after a bus also will cramp one

    i used to be able to run <8min for 2.4km without sweat, now only barely can pass

    i still have the stamina and strength to run faster, but i dare not to run too fast because the calf muscle will cramp so badly until i cannot even walk.
    Perhaps you already over work/stress your body too much when you are younger during NS days.

  10. #30

    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    Quote Originally Posted by jsbn
    I pull my leg muscles (yes, its my real legs, not the 'leg') whenever I'm sleeping.

    Kinda silly when I have to limp to work or take MC cos I pulled my leg muscle whilst I'm sleeping...

    I dun think its the lack of water or warm-up eh?
    To prevent nocturnal cramps, ensure you stretch again after the exercise/training/competition. The purpose is to help relax the muscles that were tensed up, and also to help "squeeze" out the lactic acid. A massage could also be useful.

    Other alternatives include hot/cold baths, also to enable the tissues contract and "squeeze" out.

  11. #31

    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    Quote Originally Posted by +evenstar
    I sometimes wake up suddenly with leg cramps. Just relax, stretch the legs a bit, stand up and try to walk about..
    Yup. I get that sometimes, but on my foot. Most impt is to prevent the muscle from contracting further. Stretch it in the opposite direction. Cos from my observations the cramp is self-sustaining i.e. it will get worse and worse until u stretch the muscle.

    After that keep it warm and comfy.

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    Quote Originally Posted by +evenstar
    I sometimes wake up suddenly with leg cramps. Just relax, stretch the legs a bit, stand up and try to walk about..
    If I were to wake up in the middle of the night, its becos I'd pulled my muscle, so I'll be basically rolling around in extreme pain and agony... Den 1 whole nite can't sleep liao.

    Hot/Cold showers will help? I'll give that a go.
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  13. #33
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    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    my very first trip up ophir i cramped in the hamstrings until the student coordinator had to help me massage...woohoo.

    take in more salts when on strenuous expeditions ( not saying ophir is strenuous...only for beginners it is...) and basically, u must be in shape and of reasonable fitness to avoid such problems....

  14. #34
    Senior Member redstone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why do we get muscle cramps?

    I was climbing my first mountain.

    Everyone did stretching exercises for like 20 mins. Butabout 3/4 up the mountain, I had immense leg muscle cramps several time and had to rest on the (45 degrees) slope.

    In the end, very tiring, felt like wanna die. But very fun.

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