Muscle cramps are usually caused by mineral deficiencies. The most common deficiencies to cause cramps are calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Muscle cramps during pregnancy and nursing are often from calcium and magnesium deficiencies because of the increased need for these minerals for the growing baby. These cramps often occur during the early morning hours.
Calcium is found in dairy products, leafy green vegetables, seaweeds, and seeds and nuts. Magnesium is found in whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and chocolate.
In Sports Massage, we often see muscle cramps from a deficiency in potassium. Potassium is lost with the body fluids, so it is lost with sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, and through the urine with certain diuretics.
Potassium is found in fruits and vegetables, and in electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade. Soup broth is also an excellent source of potassium.
Potassium deficiency can manifest itself in muscle tremors as well as cramps. It is important to have your client replenish their potassium if they are experiencing any tremors or cramping.
Other causes of muscle cramps in athletes may be from dehydration and from not cooling down after an event. The lack of a cool down period can cause a build-up of lactic acid and other post-activity metabolites in the muscles that can cause cramping.