Although it is commonly assumed that cramps
during exercise are the result of fluid electrolyte imbalance
induced by sweating, studies have not supported this theory (Miles
& Clarkson 1994). Dehydration and electrolyte loss are not
the sole causes of EAMC because many individuals can experience
cramping when they are hydrated and supplemented with electrolytes.
Garrison (2012) conducted a meta analysis and failed to find
evidence that Magnesium supplementation was effective in reducing
A more recent theory suggests that EAMC is related to sustained
neural activity that results in fatigue. This idea is supported
by athletes who are more likely to experience cramps toward the
end of an event. A distinction has been made between EAMC that
result from fatigue and that resulting from heat (in which electrolyte
and fluid losses result in a contraction of extracellular fluid
In one study, participants who experienced cramps had a higher
average sweat rate than those that did not experience cramps.
Subjects who experienced EAMC who consumed a carbohydrate - electrolyte
beverage were able to exercise 150% longer before the onset of
Other common treatments include:
Garrison SR1, Allan GM, Sekhon RK, Musini VM, Khan KM (2012).
Magnesium for skeletal muscle cramps. Cochrane Database Syst
Jung AP, Bishop PA, Al-Nawwas A, Dale RB (2005). Influence
of Hydration and Electrolyte Supplementation on Incidence and
Time to Onset of Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps. Journal of
Athletic Training. 40(2): 71-75.
Miles MP1, Clarkson PM (1994). Exercise-induced muscle
pain, soreness, and cramps. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 34(3):203-16.