How to Get Rid of Heat Cramps and Prevent them
WHAT ARE HEAT CRAMPS?
Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur during heavy exercise in many different situations. The spasms may be more intense and more prolonged than are typical nighttime leg cramps.
The muscles most commonly affected include those of your calves, arms, abdominal wall, and back, although heat cramps may involve any muscle group involved when it comes to exercise and vigorous activity. Muscle cramping that occurs during or after physical activity is called " exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC)".
When the demand for water and salt exceeds the supply, the minerals are pulled from your body's cells. This imbalance disrupts the balance of electrolytes (chemicals that regulate nerve and muscle actions) in your body, which can lead to painful muscle spasms.
Heat cramps are not restricted to athletes, and people who are at greater risk include seniors, infants, and children. City dwellers and those without access to adequate water or shelter are also at risk.
Heat cramps can sometimes be the precursor of a more serious condition. Severe heat cramps that are not treated properly may lead to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. Hot temperatures and humidity can cause a significant increase in body temperature that puts stress on the body's ability to cool itself through sweat.
If you exercise in a hot environment or even hot weather, finding a cool place to rest can do wonders for your body when having one of these episodes. Cool water mixed with other electrolytes can be essential in preventing heat illness in the first place.
What Causes Heat Cramps?
Heat cramps are a common problem that affects athletes and those who exercise in hot weather. They can be caused by not drinking enough water, exercising for too long without adequate fluid replacement, dehydration from vomiting or diarrhea and poor nutrition.
They can also be caused by eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, excessive use of diuretics (such as caffeine), low levels of potassium in the blood due to certain medications for high blood pressure (such as beta-blockers); consuming drugs containing amphetamines such as ecstasy.
Heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke can cause cramps, but this article will focus on exercise-related muscle cramps.
Dehydration and electrolyte loss are among the leading causes of exercise-related muscle cramps. It reduces blood flow to your muscles and tends to be more common when it's hot and humid.
In addition, some medicines such as diuretics may cause your body to lose too much salt or potassium from sweating, leading to muscle cramping.
As for other causes, you may experience heat cramps when exercising in hot weather if you're not drinking enough fluids.
What Can I do to help prevent heat cramps?
If you’ve ever had a leg cramp or pulled a hamstring, then you know how painful they can be. Muscle cramps are also more common during the summer months when people spend their time exercising outside in hot temperatures. But there are ways to reduce your risk of getting heat-related muscle cramps and keep them from happening again if you do get one.
1) Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise
Be sure to drink regularly before your workout so that your body is well hydrated before beginning any strenuous activity in the heat. This will help avoid dehydration which leads to muscle weakness and fatigue while working out.
2) Stretch beforehand
Gently stretch to help increase blood flow and keep muscles limber and less likely to cramp.
Take a break every 20 minutes and sit under an umbrella, in the shade, or in front of a fan if available.
4) Wear loose, light-colored clothing
Loose clothing will help keep you cool while working out and light-colored clothing will reflect the sun’s rays. Excess clothing, or wearing too many layers in a hot environment can easily lead to cramped muscles.
5) Exercise early in the morning or later in the evening
Avoid outdoor physical activity during the hottest hours of the day when the sun is at its peak.
6) Keep cool
Take a cool bath or shower with some ice cubes in it after you work out.
7) Eat well
Avoid eating junk food before or during your outdoor workout. Also, pay attention to the type of fluids you drink (i.e., avoid caffeinated beverages).
8) Seek medical care if cramps persist
If muscle cramps continue or seem to be getting worse, talk with your healthcare provider.
How to treat Heat Cramps
Even when you take steps to prepare for the heat, you may still experience heat cramps, especially when your muscles get fatigued. When you feel the muscle spasms starting, don’t wait and try to push through the pain. Stop and care for your muscles right away.
Move to a location with air conditioning to cool your body temperature
Drink plenty of water and electrolytes to make sure you are fully hydrated. Adequate Fluid replacement is key in helping to prevent heat cramps, especially if you are experiencing excessive sweating.
Take the time to recover fully by resting before you resume strenuous activity.
This may take several hours before you are ready to return to full-intensity training. Stretch and massage the affected muscles to release any remaining tension and spasms.
When you develop cramps that are so severe you need to stop training completely, consider drinking a serving of Cramp Medic. The proprietary blend is designed to stop muscle cramps in as little as 15 seconds and can prevent further cramps for up to two weeks. Cramp Medic comes in powder form, so it is easy to add to your pack or gym bag to have on hand.
When Should I Use Cramp Medic?
The best time to use Cramp Medic is during strenuous exercise in the heat. Use at least one serving (1/2 tsp.) per hour while exercising for optimal results. Using two servings in a twenty-four-hour period is more than enough for any athlete.
If you are unsure about what dosage is right for you, consider starting with one-half serving your first time using Cramp Medic. After that, increase the amount depending on your fitness needs and tolerance level but do not exceed more than 1 oz per day regardless of how much sweating or exercise you do. Using too much of any supplement can be counterproductive or cause side effects, so don't take chances by exceeding recommended doses.
For best results, follow the serving size directions on the label. Using too much or taking it more than once a day is not recommended.
This is especially true if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Consuming too much of this or any other supplement on your own could be dangerous.
(This article is intended for informational purposes only. If you or anyone that you know is in need of immediate medical attention, please contact your local emergency services or consult a professional that is licensed to provide medical advice.)
- 1.Maughan RJ, Shirreffs SM. Muscle Cramping During Exercise: Causes, Solutions, and Questions Remaining. Sports Med. 2019 Dec;49(Suppl 2):115-124. doi: 10.1007/s40279-019-01162-1. PMID: 31696455; PMCID: PMC6901412.
- Bergeron MF. Heat cramps: fluid and electrolyte challenges during tennis in the heat. J Sci Med Sport. 2003 Mar;6(1):19-27. doi: 10.1016/s1440-2440(03)80005-1. PMID: 12801207.
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