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Athletic Muscle Cramps: Potassium treatment and prevention

written by: AlyssaAst • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 3/9/2010

Muscle cramps are common for athletes to experience. Often the cause of these cramps is lack of potassium. To treat and prevent muscle cramps in athletes, it's important to have adequate potassium levels.

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    Athletic Muscle Cramps

    Muscle cramps are a common problem among athletes. There are many factors that can lead to muscle cramps. Preventing muscle cramps can easily be achieved with a few preventative steps. Muscle cramp treatment can easily be done at home with the assistance of potassium. Low potassium symptoms often take form as muscle cramps allowing the treatment and prevention to be quite simple.

    Athletic muscle cramps often occur as a sharp pain caused from involuntary muscle contractions. Cramps often occur suddenly creating the temporary inability to use the affected muscles. A hard lump, sometimes visible, often occurs while the muscle is cramping. The cramped muscle can begin to tingle or feel numb. Preventing muscle cramps is relatively easy to achieve. Muscle cramp treatment can be done easily at home.

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    Muscle Cramp Causes

    There are many factors that can cause muscle cramps. Most of the time athletic muscle cramps are caused from exercise when a certain muscle is over used. Muscle cramps commonly occur in warm weather because the risk of dehydration is higher. Dehydration is known to cause cramps. Dehydration occurs from excessive fluid loss during physical activities. Low potassium levels can take form as muscle cramps, creating the painful condition. Poor stretching techniques can also lead to muscle cramps.

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    Muscle Cramp Prevention

    Preventing muscle cramps can easily be achieved by practicing proper exercise techniques. Muscle cramps can easily be avoided by stretching properly. An easy preventative step to fallow in order to reduce the risk of cramps is to remain properly hydrated during physical activity. An electrolyte imbalance leads to low potassium levels. This results in cramps so it is important to eat a well balanced diet with potassium incorporated into it. Low Potassium symptoms often take the form of muscle cramps. This is because potassium helps maintain normal muscle function. Without potassium muscles can not contract properly.

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    Home Treatment

    At home muscle cramp treatment is very simple and often does not require further medical treatment. When a muscle cramp occurs fully extend the cramped muscle until the cramp is relieved. A light massage of the area can relieve the pain. It is vital during physical activities to remain hydrated. Potassium levels need to be kept up. This can be done by eating potassium rich foods. You can keep bananas, oranges, tomatoes, cantaloupes, and peaches handy in case of a sudden muscle cramp. These will replenish the body’s potassium supply. Ice can help alleviate the pain of muscle cramps as well.

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    Disclaimer

    The information in this article should not be considered medical advice. The information in this article is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Always check with your physician before taking any products or following any advice you have read on Brighthub.com. Always consult your doctor before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed. Certain herbs and holistic remedies are unsuitable to take if you are pregnant or nursing and must always be cleared by your doctor before use.

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    References

    “Those Devilish Cramps” By Richard Williams

    http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/tc/tc1009/cramps.htm

    “Low Potassium” By John P. Cunha, April 8, 2008

    http://www.emedicinehealth.com/low_potassium.htm

    “Muscle Cramps” By Daniel Gornel, MD

    http://www.medicinenet.com/muscle_cramps/article.htm

    “Muscle Cramps” MayoClinic.com, July 17, 2008

    http://www.mayoclinic.com