heat cramps

Heat Cramps are the most common, but least serious heat injury. Heat cramps are strong muscle contractions, usually in the the muscles at the back of the calves. The muscle contractions are forceful and painful. Some other heat injuries are: heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Heat cramps seem to be connected to heat, dehydration, and poor conditioning, rather than to lack of salt or other mineral imbalances. The cramps usually improve with rest, drinking water, and a cool environment.

Causes

Heat cramps are muscular spasms that occur when the body loses too much salt during excessive sweating and not enough salt is taken in. With too much water and not enough salt, electrolyte imbalance takes place and the already stressed muscles are further affected. Heat cramps can also be caused by overexertion of muscles or inadequate stretching or warm up. Hot weather is common but not always the cause of heat cramps.

In order for the muscles to function properly, they need a strict balance of water, calcium, and sodium. Whenever the balance is disrupted, regardless of environmental temperature, heat cramps can occur.

Signs

Some of the most common signs of heat cramps are:

  • rapid heartbeat
  • hot, sweaty skin
  • dizziness
  • fainting and exhaustion
  • nausea and vomiting

Treatments

There are many ways to treat heat cramps. The type of treatment depends on the cause of the heat cramps. Please talk to your doctor to see that treatment options are best for you.

Preventing heat cramps during exerise

  • Gradually increase the duration and intensity of workout sessions.
    • This will also help prevent developing other muscle injuries
  • Consume drinks that are rich in electrolytes before, during, and after workout sessions.
    • This will help maintain a balanced electrolyte level.
  • Removing excess clothing during physical activity.
    • This may help reduce the chance of getting heat cramps by allowing for greater evaporation, keeping core body temperature lower during exercise.