Muscle Cramps: What are they and why do I have them?

Muscle Cramps: What are they and why do I have them?

I have had several patients come into the office recently complaining of muscle cramps. So what is a muscle cramp, why is it happening to me, and how do I get rid of it? I’m glad you asked!


What is a muscle cramp?

“Muscle cramps result in continuous, involuntary, painful, and localized contraction of an entire muscle group, individual single muscle, or select muscle fibers.” (1) This continuous contraction can happen while you are exercising or at random while you are performing everyday tasks, sitting or lying down. These cramps usually only last a few seconds, but can be painful until the muscle relaxes.


Why is it happening to me?

The first thing I ask people that come in with cramping is “ have you been drinking enough water?”. Most of the time the answer is no. Cramping can also be caused by not warming up before you exercise. Occasionally, we see cramping as other more serious conditions, so it is important to let your doctor know if you are experiencing cramps.


How do I get rid of my cramps?

Muscle cramps will go away after a few seconds. To prevent them from coming back, it’s important to make sure you are well hydrated. That means at least half your body weight in oz every day ( more if you are active/exercising that day). It’s important to make sure you are also getting enough minerals and electrolytes throughout the day. The main one we focus on is Magnesium.

If you are cramping while you are exercising, make sure you have done a proper warm up before you start exercising. Remember, your warm up and cool down should be about the length of time as your sport/ activity.


Work cited:

Bordoni B, Sugumar K, Varacallo M. Muscle Cramps. [Updated 2021 Jun 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: