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Causes and treatment for cramp

Exercise induced muscle cramp (EAMC) is a common condition that occurs either during or immediately after exercise and is not very well understood, even within the profession. There are theories that it is linked to a lack of water, salt imbalance or is a neurological condition. Results of a recent study showed evidence to support the neuromuscular cause with the focus being on muscular fatigue. They found that a triad of causes might be behind cramp but more specifically it is likely a muscular overload alongside fatigue and dehydration that affects the balance between the excitatory drive from muscle spindles and the inhibitory drive from the golgi tendon organs, resulting in muscle cramp. Treatment and prevention strategies for cramp include; passive stretching of the affected muscle, electrical muscle stimulation (to result in a higher cramp threshold), kineseo taping, compression garments, massage therapy, corrective exercise, hydration, electrolyte supplements, pickle juice (sipped during limb cramp can reduce cramp duration). Quinine is no longer recommended due to its side effects. Local heat is effective at preventing leg nocturnal muscle cramp in the elderly.

(At Wimbledon physio sporting injuries clinic we offer: electrical muscle stimulation, kineseo taping, massage therapy and corrective exercise as treatments)

References:

Exercise-associated muscle cramp – doubts about the cause. Dzenan Jahic and Edin Begic. Journal of the academy of medical sciences of bosnia and Herzegovina. 2018

Muscular cramp: causes and management. M.Swash, D.Czesnik and M.de Carvalho. European journal of neurology 2019 26:214-221

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