Muscle cramping in athletes--risk factors, clinical assessment, and management

Clin Sports Med. 2008 Jan;27(1):183-94, ix-x. doi: 10.1016/j.csm.2007.09.006.


Exercise associated muscle cramping (EAMC) is defined as a painful, spasmodic, and involuntary contraction of skeletal muscle that occurs during or immediately after exercise. There is a high lifetime prevalence of EAMC in athletes, specifically in endurance athletes. The most important risk factors for EAMC in athletes are a previous history of EAMC, and performing exercise at a higher relative exercise intensity or duration, when compared with normal training and participating in hot and humid environmental conditions. The diagnosis of EAMC is made clinically, and the most effective immediate management of EAMC is rest and passive stretching. The key to the prevention of EAMC is to reduce the risk of developing premature muscle fatigue.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Muscle Cramp / diagnosis*
  • Muscle Cramp / etiology
  • Muscle Cramp / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Sports*