THE SCIENCE BEHIND KRAMP RELIEF
A muscle cramp (aka a charley horse) is defined as an involuntary contraction of one or more skeletal muscles (often in the same muscle group) that do not relax. Although the underlying cause of cramps is unknown at the cellular, biochemical, physiology levels, there is general agreement that cramps result when nerves in muscles are overstimulated (hyper-excited). A cramp tends to be painful (often severely so) and may last for a few seconds, minutes or longer.
Cramps affect virtually everyone – sooner or later. In all age groups involved in various levels of exercise or physical activities, cramps may be an issue. Cramps can drastically affect the outcome of a competitive sport. There are approximately 7.2 million college and high school athletes in the U.S. This number does not include the millions of amateur and recreational athletes or the professional athletes in all sports. Research has shown that a high percentage of all athletes experience cramping at some time; any sport’s enthusiast can attest to the impact of cramps on the outcome of a basketball, soccer, football game, a track meet, a tennis match, etc. In older individuals, cramps chronically affect a third of the 20 million people over the age of 60 and half of everyone over 80. Persons experiencing night time cramps may have multiple episodes during a night and/or during the week.
Exercising, injury, overuse of muscles, pregnancy, decreased amounts of minerals (e.g. calcium, magnesium or potassium), exposure to cold temperatures, various medical conditions (e.g. blood flow problems, kidney disease, thyroid disease or multiple sclerosis), standing on a hard surface for a long time, sitting for a long time, awkward positions while sleeping, dehydration or certain medications have been associated with cramps. There appears to be no singular causative agent and there may be more than one cellular basis for cramps.
Although quinine was used for years as an effective remedy for cramp relief, it has potentially serious side effects at the higher doses required for relief of cramps (hence its ban by the FDA). Currently there is no effective, universal (one medication fits all) prescription medication for cramp relief. Furthermore, even though numerous remedies are touted, such as fluid replacement, electrolyte balance, energy bars, etc., there is no proven, effective, preventative method for cramps or for post-cramp treatment, until now, KRT can relieve and prevent cramps.