Can exercise trigger muscle twitching?

Muscle twitching that occurs after physical activity is not uncommon, especially if the muscles are fatigued or there is lack of essential electrolytes in the body. There are certain modifications on the workout routine and the diet to avoid muscle twitching in most cases. In case the twitches persist, it is best to set an appointment with a doctor to rule out an underlying condition.

Close look on muscle twitching

Muscle twitching or fasciculation are described as contractions of the small muscle groups that are not quite strong and localized to a single area. The muscle twitching that occurs after physical activity commonly occur in the calf, quadriceps and hamstrings and are essentially low-grade cramps.

Unlike cramps, muscle twitching is not painful and typically lasts for only a few seconds but might occur for up to several hours.

What are the possible causes?

The twitching can be trigger by various underlying conditions. Even though the exact reason why muscle twitching occurs after exercise is still unclear, common causes include the following:

Muscle twitching

Most of the exercise-related muscle twitching are momentary and eventually subside without requiring treatment.

  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte deficiency
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Lack of proper warm-up and stretching

In some circumstances, the muscle twitching is due to excess intake of caffeine or a side effect of a prescription medication. Rarely, it might be triggered by a nervous system condition or other underlying medical condition.


Most of the exercise-related muscle twitching are momentary and eventually subside without requiring treatment. In case it lasts longer or becomes an annoyance, massage and stretching the affected muscle can alleviate the twitching.

It is important to rest the muscle and encourage the individual to take a warm bath. The twitching that lasts more than a few minutes at a time or occurs continuously even without engaging in exercise might indicate an underlying health condition which requires assessment by a doctor.

Preventive measures

The risk for developing muscle twitching after exercise is to drink water before, during and after exercise. Restoring hydration after physical activity using an electrolyte-based sports drink is beneficial as well.

Make sure that the individual eats a nutrient-dense diet that contains electrolytes particularly magnesium and potassium. Proper warm-up before activity must be performed and steadily stretch the muscles both after warm-up and after activity.

It is also vital to avoid excessive intake of caffeine before exercise. Lastly, exercise in a steady manner and changes must be done gradually.