Originally Answered: Why do my legs cramp whenever they get hot?
The exact cause of a leg cramp is not well understood, but there are some risk factors that are thought to contribute to this condition:
•High weight (not necessarily obesity)
•Medications (statins, prednisone, others...)
The most common cause that is typically seen in patients who develop leg cramps is exercising in an unusual way, meaning either more activity or a different exercise. Leg cramps are more common in young (adolescent age) and older (over 65) patients. Patients who weigh more are more prone to developing leg cramps. Also, some medications can cause side effects of leg cramping.
How can leg cramps be prevented?
1) Stay Hydrated
It is not well known exactly how dehydration and muscle cramping are related, but it is known that dehydration can predispose to leg cramps. Drink at least three full glasses of water each day, including one before bedtime. Also drink plenty of fluid before, during, and after exercise.
2) Stretch Regularly
Stretching can relax muscle fibers. When working out, a good post-work out stretching routine can help relax muscles and prevent cramps. Make sure you cool down after exercising, and do not exercise vigorously just prior to sleep.
3) Train Gradually
Gradually build up an exercise program, and try to avoid sudden increases in activity. The "10% Rule" is a good rule of thumb: never increase your exercise over one week by more than 10% compared to the week before. Sudden changes in activities can cause leg cramps.
What is the best way to make a leg cramp go away?
Usually instinct takes over when a leg cramp strikes, and you massage and stretch the sore muscle. This is a perfect instinct and often solves the problem.
The best steps are:
•Massage the cramped muscle
•Stretch the muscle (gently!)
•Take a hot shower or bath to warm and relax the muscle .
Because electrolyte imbalances can cause cramping, some blood may be analyzed to ensure the levels of potassium and other electrolytes are normal.Eating bananas is good as bananas are rich in potassium. There are also muscle relaxing medications that can be prescribed if the muscle cramping is a problem, particularly at night. Finally, your medications and medical history should be reviewed to investigate for possible factors contributing to your leg cramps.
Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur during intense exercise in a hot climate. Symptoms include muscle cramps and/or spasms, heavy sweating, normal body temperature. Heat cramps may happen in any muscle group involved in exercise, but the most commonly affected muscles are calves, arms, abs, and back.
Heat cramps are painful, brief muscle cramps that occur during exercise or work in a hot environment. Muscles may spasm or jerk involuntarily. Cramping may also be delayed and occur a few hours later.
Heat cramps usually involve the muscles fatigued by heavy work such as calves, thighs, abdomen, and shoulders.
•You most at risk doing work or activities in a hot environment-usually during the first few days of an activity you're not used to.
•You are also at risk if you sweat a great deal during exercise and don't drink enough or drink large amounts of fluids that lack salt.
Severe cramping may occur when you have been sweating excessively and losing electrolytes.
The exact cause of heat cramps is unknown, but it is probably related to electrolyte problems. Various essential minerals, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, are known as electrolytes. They are important for many body functions, and an electrolyte imbalance can cause problems.
Sweat contains a large amount of sodium, and drinking fluids with inadequate sodium content after sweating profusely may result in a serious low-sodium condition called hyponatremia. Some factories have virtually eliminated heat cramps in their workers by supplying salt-enriched fluids.
Pathophysiology of Heat cramps:
Hot environment causes profuse sweating. Na+ is lost in sweat. Lack of Na+ causes muscle cramping.
The easiest way to avoid heat disorders is to keep your body hydrated by drinking fluids before, during, and after exercise. The body's fluid needs vary with exertion, weather, terrain, and other factors. Fluid recommendations for runners say that they should "obey your thirst" and drink when their mouth is dry and they feel the need to drink. Drink before workouts and make sure you have access to fluids if exercising more than 30 minutes. During longer workouts, some of your fluids should include a sports drink to replace lost salt and electrolytes.
Thrist alone is not a good indicator of adequate fluid intake.
If you're suffering from heat cramps, stop running immediately and drink fluids (especially a sports drink. Increase fluids intake. Stretch the cramped muscle. Move to a cool place. Rest and lie down. Give a balanced salt and water solution. Salt alone leads to increased nausea and increased water loss. Water alone leads to worsened cramping due to dilutional hyponatremia.
Muscle fatigue leading to heat cramps can be caused from a lactic acid build-up as a result from vigorous, strenuous and prolonged exercises. Prolonged inactivity such as sitting in a car can cause cramps due to lack of blood flow and circulation to the legs. It could also be due to PAD(peripheral artery disease)