From weekend warriors to superstar Olympic athletes, one thing they have in common is their hate for muscle cramps; a Charley Horse if you will. It can make a 300 pound football player cry out of his sleep, or stop a triathlete from reaching the end of the race (2004 Olympics).
There are many snake oil treatments, methods, rituals, and the like to battle this scourge of the fitness world. These include drinking more water, electrolytes, eating a banana, and stretching the muscle like your life depended on it.
- Poor blood circulation in the legs
- Overexertion of the calf muscles while exercising
- Insufficient stretching before exercise
- Exercising in the heat
- Muscle fatigue
- Magnesium and/or potassium deficiency
- Calcium deficiency in pregnant women
- Malfunctioning nerves.
Initially thought to be a muscular dysfunction, has recently been found to be caused from a misfiring of nerves. Nerve cells that extend from the spinal cord become hyper excitable and go haywire, then an excruciating muscle cramp forms. It has also been found that some people are predisposed to cramp easily whether they exercise lightly or intensely. Muscle cramps play a huge role in the quick abandonment many fitness journey’s; some quit within a few weeks of starting. Without warning it can hit you like a ton of bricks.
Research done within the last couple of years has provided an effective solution: Cayenne Pepper or other hot spices. Taken prior to, during, or immediately after exercising, your chances of obtaining an intense muscle cramp is reduced by 3x. A new company is marketing a product called HOTSHOT to improve neuromuscular performance and prevent muscle cramps at its root. You can try your own homemade concoction, i.e cayenne, water, honey, etc. The research surrounding this topic is ongoing. As always please consult with your Doctor prior to trying new supplements.
Nothing should stop you from achieving your health and fitness goals!