A muscle cramp is a spasm in the muscle that can be slightly uncomfortable to excruciating. Lasting from just a few seconds to up to fifteen minutes a muscle cramp can wake you up at night or drop you on the spot in the middle of your game.
Researches still do not know the exact cause of a muscle cramp but they have found that they can be attributed to inadequate stretching, dehydration, muscle fatigue, exercising in the heat and loss of electrolytes.
Some people are more susceptible to them including children, the overweight, the elderly and those who are ill or in poor physical condition.
In general they do not require medical attention. If you experience one then you need to stretch and massage the muscle that is in cramp. There is an old wives tale that if you get a cramp in you calf while in bed, you should stand on a cold floor to ease it. In fact what you are doing when you stand up is stretching the calf muscle. When you get a calf cramp the natural thing to do is bend you foot upwards towards your shin, but this is the worst thing you can do as this contracts the muscle and intensifies the pain. You need to point your toes away from you, like a ballerina on her toes. This stretches the muscle, easing the pain. This applies to all muscle cramps; stretch it as soon as you can. However the back muscles may need more expert attention, as any one who as suffered a back spasm will testify.
To help prevent the problem in the first place stretch before training, drink plenty of fluids, before, during and after the exercise, more in hot weather and finally get yourself in good physical condition. The better condition your body is in the less likely you will experience a muscle cramp.