Why Do I Get Leg Cramps After Drinking Alcohol?

Consumption of alcohol leads to loss of balance and coordination, making the muscles overwork; whether you drink small or large amounts. Clinical trials show that the brain as well as the body suffers the effects of drinking alcoholic beverages for up to 3 days.

Muscle cramps occur when a muscle involuntarily tightens up and goes in to spasms, setting off acute pain.

When you consume 1 gm of alcohol per kg of your body weight, it increases the loss of power related to exercise induced muscle injury. 12 ounces of beer contains 13.7 g of alcohol. For a 68 kg man who consumes 5 or more beers after a workout there will be a considerable reduction in muscular performance and recovery.

What Causes Leg Cramps After Drinking Alcohol?

There are two chief reasons for the occurrence of leg cramps after alcohol consumption. Alcohol increases the content of lactic acid in the body. Firstly, an excessive accumulation of lactic acid triggers cramps and pain in the muscles.

Alcohol interferes with the breakdown and decomposition of lactic acid and increases muscle soreness after physical activity.

The body tends to store alcohol just like it stores up fat. Alcohol damages amino acids, which are required for energy. Amino acids change to fat, greatly obstructing the energy pathways and generating huge quantities of lactic acid, thus causing a reduction in energy and muscle performance as well as recovery, whilst significantly increasing muscle soreness. What’s more, alcohol also increases the number of calories and contributes to raising body fat.

Secondly, alcohol causes dehydration. The body sees a severe deficit of electrolytes, and you will experience muscle cramps.

Consuming too much of alcohol can cause tremendous dehydration and cell imbalances that trigger muscle cramps and muscle strains. You also lose muscle mass due to alcohol, thereby resulting in diminished strength, endurance and performance. Exhaustion sets in during athletic training, consequently raising your risk of injury. Slower reaction time and mental capabilities can be affected for several days after alcohol consumption.

Heavy drinking will increase acid production and will consequently hamper the capability of the cells in your body to absorb vitamins and minerals, thus leading to insufficiencies in nutrients. This deficiency will accordingly get in the way with your body’s capacity to control blood glucose levels, hence resulting in low blood sugar – hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar levels result in a major loss in energy, disturbing the normal functioning of your body and muscles.

Moderate consumption of alcohol following exercise causes a loss in muscle strength. Numerous researches and clinical studies have been carried out to demonstrate this. In one such study – 11 healthy men were analyzed, who carried out leg exercises with zero alcohol consumption. The subjects then performed the same exercises, and then consumed a drink of vodka and orange juice. The results demonstrated that exercise associated loss in muscle function got exaggerated after drinking alcohol.

To make sure that you do not get leg cramps, you must drink plenty of water before you go to sleep. Water will re-hydrate you, as well as decrease the concentration of lactic acid in your body. This greatly decreases the chances of leg cramps. Furthermore, eat foods which are rich in carbohydrates; these are decidedly beneficial in these circumstances.