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The Surprising Reason You Have Muscle Cramps While Working Out

By Paul Ellington, PT, DPT, OCS, CHC | December 18, 2018

Are you getting muscle cramps during or after exercise? You’re not alone! In fact, 95% of people who have been through a physical education class in school report having had a muscle cramp at least once.  Higher level endurance athletes, such as triathletes, are even more susceptible to exercise-associated muscle cramps with 67% of triathletes reporting a history of cramping during or after exercise.

THE SURPRISING REASON YOU HAVE MUSCLE CRAMPS WHILE WORKING OUT

Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance is commonly thought to be the cause of muscle cramps. This is most evident when training in hot and humid conditions due to an increased loss of electrolytes through sweat. Recent research suggests this is only part of the problem, however.

Overworked muscles and neuromuscular fatigue may actually be more important than hydration when considering the cause of muscle cramps.

TREATING EXERCISE-ASSOCIATED MUSCLE CRAMPS

Exercise-associated muscle cramps are mainly treated with hydration and electrolyte supplementation but this could be neglecting the underlying cause of cramps during or after exercise. The most effective way of treating cramps before they affect your athletic performance is NEUROMUSCULAR RE-EDUCATION.

Neuromuscular re-education involves training weak, underactive muscles to help balance the work load. We routinely see patients who compensate for a weak muscle by overusing another which can lead to cramps. By training the underactive muscles and teaching your body more efficient ways of moving, we can reduce the stress on overactive muscles and get you back to peak performance! This is accomplished through:

  • a biomechanical assessment to ensure proper form, and
  • trigger-point dry needling to loosen coiled muscles.

Virginia Therapy & Fitness Center has a long history of treating professional and collegiate athletes, and has kept weekend warriors on the court, field, links (wherever!) for over 14 years. If you’re one of the many athletes who is struggling with exercise-associated muscle cramps and staying hydrated doesn’t seem to be enough, schedule an appointment the best therapists in Virginia for a thorough musculoskeletal evaluation.  Let us help you get back in the game!

About The Authors

Paul Ellington, PT, DPT, OCS, CHC

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