- When to See the Doctor
What is muscle twitching?
Muscle twitches, also known as fasciculations, can be alarming, making people fear the worst-case scenario. However, there are several reasons that you might experience muscle twitching after a workout. Most of these are perfectly normal and do not indicate a more serious condition.
Muscle twitches are a type of muscle spasm, the involuntary contraction of a muscle. Muscle spasms can occur as brief twinges, a sudden contraction that may make the muscle visibly twitch. They can also occur as cramps, more sustained and painful contractions.
Most people will experience muscle spasms at some point in their life. There are many potential causes, including:
Muscle twitching can also be a symptom of certain neurological disorders. If your muscles often twitch in the absence of known causes, you should speak to your doctor.
Signs and symptoms of muscle twitching after exercise
Post-workout muscle spasms can vary in intensity and duration. These spasms may feel like a stabbing pain or a mild tic. A muscle may only contract once in a brief twitch, or it may continue to twitch for a short period of time. The muscle under the skin may feel hard or visibly twitch while contracting.
If the muscle cannot relax after contracting, the spasm becomes a cramp. Cramps can last anywhere from a few seconds to 15 minutes.
In healthy adults, post-workout spasms are most commonly experienced in the lower leg in a cramp sometimes called a “charley horse." However, spasms may also affect other areas of the body. Common areas include:
Spasms may occur during exercise, immediately after, or up to several hours later. They should resolve on their own.
Causes of muscle twitching after exercise
There are several reasons that exercise might cause your muscles to twitch. Factors include:
Dehydration and mineral deficiency
Overuse can fatigue the muscles, which can interfere with normal neural activity and cause the spine to make muscles contract. In addition, muscles need oxygen, and overexertion depletes the body’s supply.
Sudden changes in intensity can also overtax muscles not yet used to this new activity.
Regular stretching lengthens muscle fibers so that they can contract and loosen more easily. Gentle stretching as part of a warmup also helps prepare muscles for the workout ahead.
Some people are more likely to experience muscle spasms than others. You might be more susceptible to muscle twitching if you are:
- Taking certain medications
- A young child or an older adult
- An athlete returning to train after a period of inactivity
When to see the doctor for muscle twitching
The occasional twitch after exercising doesn’t require a doctor’s visit. However, you should see a doctor to rule out nervous disorders if your muscles frequently twitch and you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Long-term twitching
- Loss of or change in nerve sensation
- Loss of muscle size
Diagnosing muscle twitching after exercise
If you are concerned about muscle twitching after workout, you should consult your doctor. In order to make sure that twitches are the natural result of exercise, your doctor will take a detailed history. Be prepared to answer questions about:
- The location of the twitching
- Its duration
- Its frequency
- Its onset or when you first noticed the twitching
- Other symptoms
If your doctor thinks it necessary, they perform any of the following tests:
Treatments for muscle twitching after exercise
In general, muscle twitches should subside on their own. To provide quicker relief, you can:
- Stop the activity that led to the cramp
- Gently stretch or massage the muscle
- Apply heat to the cramp
You can also help prevent future spasms by increasing your overall level of fitness, both flexibility and endurance. You should also warm up and stretch before any intense activity.
Latest Exercise & Fitness News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: OrthoInfo: "Muscle Cramps."
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: official publication of the World Federation of Neurology Research Group on Motor Neuron Diseases: "Prevalence and distribution of fasciculations in healthy adults: Effect of age, caffeine consumption and exercise."
Clinical Methods: The History, Laboratory, and Physical Examinations: "Muscle Cramps."
Scripps: "4 Things That Trigger Muscle Spasms and Cramps."
University of Florida Health: "Muscle Twitching."
Top Is Muscle Twitching Normal After Exercise Related Articles
7-Minute WorkoutThe 7-minute workout provides a free, convenient way to get and stay fit. Discover these short, quick exercises that use your own body weight to help you get back into shape.
Most Effective ExercisesThese seven exercises deliver fitness results at home or in the gym. Start your training to better physical health with the most effective exercises chosen by our experts.
FitnessRegular physical activity can reduce the risk of disease. Regular exercise can also reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety. There are fitness programs that fit any age or lifestyle.
Fitness Facts SlideshowThe best way to lose weight? These fast facts show weight loss is possible for everyone trying to lose weight. From calories to fitness, learn the secret to weight loss.
Is DOMS a Good Sign?DOMS is an acronym for delayed-onset muscle soreness. DOMS occurs within 12-72 hours of performing strenuous exercises. Usually, it occurs when one isn't used to the physical activity he or she performed.
Muscle CrampsMuscle cramps are involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscles that do not relax. Extremely common, any muscles that have voluntary control, including some organs, are subject to cramp. Since there is such variety in the types of muscle cramps that can occur, many causes and preventative medications are known. Stretching is the most common way to stop or prevent most muscle cramps.
Muscle Cramps (Charley Horse) and Muscle SpasmsWhat are the differences between muscle spasms and cramps? Learn about the causes of muscle spasms and cramps (charley horse) in the calf, leg, and more.
Muscle Cramps: TreatmentMuscle cramps cannot be stopped instantly with injections or pills, but some methods can be useful to relieve them which include stretching, massage, application of heat and cold, walking and taking B vitamins.
Muscle Pain (Myofascial Pain Syndrome)Muscle pain (myofascial pain syndrome) is muscle pain in the body's soft tissues due to injury or strain. Symptoms include muscle pain with tender points and fatigue. Treatment usually involves physical therapy, massage therapy, or trigger point injection.
Muscle SpasmsMuscle spasms are involuntary muscle contractions that come on suddenly and are usually quite painful. Dehydration, doing strenuous exercise in a hot environment, prolonged muscle use, and certain diseases of the nervous system may cause muscle spasms. Symptoms and signs of a muscle spasm include an acute onset of pain and a possible bulge seen or felt beneath the skin where the muscle is located. Gently stretching the muscle usually resolves a muscle spasm.
What Are the Benefits of Squats?Squats are a simple and effective exercise that focuses on multiple muscle groups. The benefits of squats include improved mobility, strength, circulation, mood, athletic performance and fat burning and slimmer legs.
When Should I Worry About Muscle Twitching?What is muscle twitching, and how do you recognize it? Muscle twitching is a common issue that affects many people. Learn the signs of muscle twitching, what causes it, when to see a doctor, and how to treat it.
Where Are Your Biceps?Biceps muscles are any group of muscles in the body that have two heads or points of origin. In humans, the two main biceps in the body are biceps brachii and biceps femoris. The first includes the large muscle on the front side of the upper arm, which is involved in the pulling in of the forearm toward the elbow.