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Heat Cramps

Heat Cramps Definition

Heat cramps are painful, brief muscle cramps that occur during or after exercise or work in a hot environment. Muscles may spasm or jerk involuntarily. Cramping may also be delayed and occur a few hours later.

Heat cramps usually involve muscles fatigued by heavy work such as the calves, thighs, abdominal muscles, and shoulders. A person is most at risk when:

  • Performing work or activities in a hot environment, usually during the first few days of an activity the person is not used to
  • Sweating a great deal during exercise and not rehydrating adequately with water or electrolyte fluid replacement drinks (such as Gatorade or Powerade)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/23/2014

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