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A cramp is defined as a sudden, severe, and involuntary muscle contraction or over-shortening. Cramps are generally temporary and do not cause long-term damage but they do cause mild-to-excruciating pain and a paralysis-like immobility of the affected muscles.

During a cramp, your muscles suddenly contract (or shorten), causing pain in your leg. This is known as a spasm, and you cannot control the affected muscle.

Cramps can come on quickly and clear in seconds, minutes or sometimes hours.

Cramps can be a big problem in sports, causing pain and a drop in performance. It is often blamed on hydration and electrolyte balance but this is not always the case. There is still a lot of research into cramps and there are no real definitive answers. Some research can show a reason but the next research contradicts this.

Cramps can be caused by sudden increases of exercise above what you are used to or increases of pace during exercise. It can help to drink 500-750 ml per hour and eating foods which contain magnesium and calcium or supplements.

One thing that can help if you are prone to cramps is stretching exercises. Guidance should be sought to ensure that the correct exercises are done to work the muscles that need work on.

If you are involved in sport and you get a cramp, you ease back on your pace or distance and with planning try to avoid sudden increases in speed.