Help Growing Athletes Avoid Muscle Cramps

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Help Growing Athletes Avoid Muscle Cramps

Help Growing Athletes Avoid Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps can occur anywhere on the body but typically target the lower extremities, like calves or feet. In a growing athlete, muscle cramps are often the result of dehydration and improper stretching or warmups.

“Muscle cramps are involuntary contractions of the muscles that can occur at any time, interrupting a workout or game in the blink of an eye,” says Lindsey Ream, MEd, LAT, ATC, Athletic Training Manager in the Children’s Sports Medicine Program. “They may also be caused by extended periods of exercise, general overuse or fatigue, dehydration or muscle strain.”

These tips from the sports medicine team at Children’s can help your child stop that muscle cramp before it starts.

            Drink plenty of water.

            Pre-hydrate: Thirty minutes before any sports activity, kids should drink water until they

                        are no longer thirsty and then drink another 8 ounces.

            Stretch those muscles every day and before every activity.

            We know it’s hard to get kids to stretch and warm up before they hit the field for practice

                        or a game, but a proper warmup is an important key to muscle health.

            Don’t suddenly increase activity or the amount of exercise.

            Increase any activity over time. Encourage children to take their time as they learn a new


If your child does get a muscle cramp, stretching and massaging the area can help alleviate pain. Most cramps subside within a few seconds, if not a minute. If a muscle cramp gets too painful, your athlete can take an over-the-counter medication, such as Tylenol or ibuprofen. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions for the athlete’s age and weight.

If the muscle cramp doesn’t go away, it is recommended to follow up with your child’s pediatrician. Typically, muscle cramps are not an emergency, but if they persist, it wouldn’t hurt to check with your child’s doctor to make sure there’s not an underlying issue.

The insight above was provided by Lindsey Ream, Athletic Training Manager in the Sports Medicine Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Disclaimer: This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911.