A cramp is a sudden muscle contraction. Cramps occur in muscles when they are overstressed. To avoid overstressing muscles, warm up before any vigorous activity and avoid sudden increases in your exercise levels. Cramps can also be caused by dehydration. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after you exercise. If you experience a muscle cramp, take the weight off the muscle. Slowly place it in a position where the pain is minimal. Very gently, massage the muscle area to promote the flow of blood. Although a severe muscle cramp can be very painful, there is rarely permanent damage. For more information on muscle cramps, contact a health care professional.