Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps

  • Kevin C. MillerEmail author


Exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC) are painful, involuntary skeletal muscle contractions during and after exercise. Despite EAMC being the most prevalent heat-related illness in athletes, their cause remains unclear and controversial. Contrary to popular opinion, most recent observational and experimental evidence suggests EAMC are not solely due to dehydration or electrolyte imbalances. Rather, it is likely EAMC stem from a convergence of an individual’s intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors which act to alter central and peripheral nervous system excitability. Unfortunately, the lack of a clear etiology for EAMC has spawned numerous myths and anecdotes regarding the most effective treatment and prevention strategies. However, the treatment for an athlete experiencing EAMC remains gentle static stretching until the EAMC abate. The most effective EAMC prevention strategy is less clear. EAMC prevention strategies should be tailored to an individual’s unique risk factors following a thorough medical evaluation and screening. Clinicians should avoid generalized treatment advice (e.g., drink more fluids or sports drinks) since it can result in disastrous outcomes such as exertional hyponatremia.


Dehydration Electrolytes Heat Fatigue Muscle afferents Sports drinks Stretching Sweat 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Rehabilitation and Medical Sciences, Central Michigan UniversityMount PleasantUSA

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