We all have experience muscle cramps. We know they are painful, and they can prevent us from using the affected limp until the cramp is over. But what is exactly a cramp? It feels like a part of our body gets too rigid and hard, and sometimes we flex the end of a limb, like a foot or our fingers or toes, and we can’t quite relax them. Medically speaking, a cramp is an intense and involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles.
The excessive strain of this contraction is what causes the pain. Leg cramps are among the most common types of cramps, and they are harmless, even if the pain can be very intense. Repeated cramps can be a sign that there is an underlying problem, so you should pay attention and listen to your muscles. Here are 10 potential causes of leg cramps you should be aware of.
1. Overusing your muscles
The way our muscles work is very simple. They are comprised of fibers made of special proteins which have the capability of contracting and relaxing as a response to a signal. That signal reaches our muscles through our nerves, and most of the time come from or central nervous system, especially the brain. When a muscle is stimulated through a nervous fiber, the muscular fibers in in contract.
When the stimulation stops, the muscle relaxes. When we use our muscles, we are continuously stimulating them, telling them to contract so we can perform the movements needed for our task. If the stimulation is excessive, then the muscular fiber might not be able to properly relax, and it will keep contracting even if our brain doesn’t tell it to do so. If these contractions are too intense, they cause pain and are called cramps, and prevent us from moving normally.