Heat cramps are painful, brief muscle spasms that occur with exercise or strenuous work, especially in a hot environment. Cramps are felt in the muscles of the legs, arms, back, or abdomen that are fatigued by heavy work.
These cramps result from a loss of fluid (dehydration) and electrolytes (essential minerals, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium) from excessive sweating. Other factors may contribute, such as fatigue and changes in how the nerves control muscles.
When you sweat during intense workouts and in high temperatures, your body loses nutrients in the form of electrolytes. Sweat contains a large amount of sodium and other nutrients that help regulate muscle contractions.
If these nutrients are lost more quickly than they are replenished, cramps can result. Cramping is one of the first signs your body can’t handle the heat.
This article discusses the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of heat cramps.