EAMC are are a common experienced condition experienced by athletes in every sport. There´s currently no scientific prove for the cause that is widely accepted. Theories for the cause relate to observational studies rather than sound experimental scientific evidence. That´s why treatment methods vary in terms of their effect and prevention strategies remain on luck which makes it hard to find the ultimate prevention strategies and it´s also a reason why these strategies remain unsuccessful.
Skeletal muscle cramps during or shortly following after an exercise in healthy individuals have been termed "Exercise Associated Muscle Cramps - EAMC". Importance is that we´re talking about healthy individuals.
Cramps occur in single multijoint muscles when contracting in a shortened state and mostly is recognized in the form of stifness, acute pain, visible knotting and/ or soreness that can last for multiple days.
Since 1955 there is some research on EAMC with various outcomes. Let´s have a look at these.
Theory 1: Dehydration
There´s a myth leading to a lack in hydration leading to a so called hypohydration and that a proper hydration is key in avoiding cramps. There has been some research that a fluid loss might also lead to negative supply with electrolytes. Scientific reasearch didn´t found any evidence. According to Kyle Braulick (2013) there is no direct connection between cause and effect:
"Significant and serious hypohydration with moderate electrolyte losses does not alter cramp susceptibility [...]"
on the other hand Alan P. Jung pointed out the following:
"[...] the addition of a carbohydrate-electrolyte beverage allowed the to exercise in a hot environment for a longer period before cramping than in the hypohydration trial"
This might be an indicator that hydration combined with carbs and electrolytes could prolong the time till cramping and should therefore be considered for every athlete in competition and training. However, as I believe that everybody has different sweating rates and consumes carbs and electrolytes at different rates it is recommended to discuss this topic individually as other topics might come into play. There are various providers of sportdrinks that´re not suitable for everyone, that´s why I discuss this with my athletes based on their personal circumstances and create their personal sportsdrink that works for them.
Braulick, Kyle W., et al. „Significant and serious dehydration does not affect skeletal muscle cramp threshold frequency.“ British journal of sports medicine 47.11 (2013): 710-714.
Jung, Alan P., et al. „Influence of hydration and electrolyte supplementation on incidence and time to onset of exercise-associated muscle cramps.“ Journal of athletic training 40.2 (2005): 71.