I'm a 22 year old female. I'm fairly active, but am coming back from a nearly year long lay off (ankle injury, then the knee, then the ankle again) I've been active that whole time, but at a much lower level. I've started going to the gym again, and am trying to take it slow so I don't re injure myself. I've been stretching carefully before I start working out, but I'm having problems with lots of cramping, especially in my quads. Any suggestions on what I can do to alleviate that?
I've also noticed that whenever I do arm weights that involved lifting my arms above my head I get very light headed and dizzy (this has always happened, even before my injuries).
Your cramping is probably related to doing "too much, too fast" even though you have tried to "go slow." When getting back into an exercise routine after a time off, especially when that time off was due to injury or illness, you must listen to your body and if cramping or muscle soreness flares up, reduce the intensity and duration of exercise and advance more slowly.
A careful warm-up is critical, and stretching is not necessarily a good warm up. In fact, stretching tissue that has not adequately warmed up can result in micro-tears and, you guessed it, cramping! My suggestion would be to warm up by walking, then progressing to a walk-jog until there is some mild perspiration, and then move into your workout routine. Stretch AFTER the workout, when the tissues are supple and the stretching will be helpful.
It would be very difficult to sort out your dizziness related to overhead arm work without actually discussing it in detail with you and examining you. You should probably discuss that symptom with your health care provider.