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, 27 (12), 109-15

Skeletal Muscle Cramps During Exercise


Skeletal Muscle Cramps During Exercise

M P Schwellnus. Phys Sportsmed.


Cramps are painful, involuntary contractions of skeletal muscle that occur during or immediately after exercise and are common in endurance athletes. Although cramps can occur in many rare medical conditions, most athletes who have exercise-associated muscle cramping do not have congenital or acquired medical disorders. The cause of cramping is not well understood but may have to do with abnormal spinal control of motor neuron activity, particularly when a muscle contracts in a shortened position. Important risk factors include muscle fatigue and poor stretching habits. Treatment consists mainly of passive stretching, with supportive measures as needed. Special diagnostic studies and conditioning programs may be necessary for recurrent episodes.

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