The cramps often do not warn and the risk of suffering them is high when we exercise, especially when we demand our body to the maximum effort.
But although they are mainly associated with footballers or long distance runners, the sudden muscular contraction that can produce unbearable pain and that at times seems endless is not something exclusive to athletes.
Women who wear heeled shoes or those with a low physical condition are also exposed to suffer these involuntary spasms in which the muscle contracts in such a way that it is almost impossible to relax.
While any muscle can suffer a cramp, the most common are those in the legs such as the gastrocnemius in the calf, popularly known as the twin, and those in the thigh, both the quadriceps and the hamstring.
The pain can be fleeting or last a few minutes, but in some cases it can be extended for a longer time, which will require the consumption of medications to force the relaxation of the contracted muscle.
What causes cramps?
While scientists still do not know why cramps occur, they have determined three scenarios in which they occur most frequently.
The most common is when there is fatigue of the muscles after a long workout or when playing a sport.
Lack of hydration is also one of the main reasons, as well as suddenly activating the body after leading a sedentary lifestyle.
What to do when they occur?
The most immediate, as seen when the players suffer them towards the end of a game, is to stretch the muscle until it relaxes.
You can also choose to put ice on the affected muscle and drink water or energy drinks to improve hydration.
Medications will only be necessary in extreme cases if the muscle does not respond, but the recommendation, as explained by the website of the United Kingdom Public Health Service, is stretching and massage.
Stimulating blood flow with leg movement also contributes to relieve discomfort.
How to prevent them?
A slight warm-up before doing any intense activity will help prepare the muscles for the effort to which they will be subjected.
This should include the stretching of the twins, the thigh muscles and the same feet. Nor is it too much to extend the routine to the upper body train, especially if a workload will be received.
Drinking enough water before, during and after exercise, particularly when carried out in high temperature conditions, is also a way to reduce the risk that they appear, although the amount will vary depending on each person.
Another factor is a healthy and balanced diet. In this case, the international health group BUPA highlights the importance of maintaining the correct levels of electrolytes in the body given their role as regulators of the nervous system and muscle function.
In this sense they control the generation of impulses that is considered to be what can produce or avoid the muscular contraction that produces the cramps.
Hence the recommendation is to combine a diet rich in sodium (with some types of cheese, beets or olives), potassium (banana, potatoes or fish), magnesium (soybeans or avocado) and calcium (milk or seeds).