Quite a few of the clients we train suffer from cramp, so we thought with the break in the racing season we would give you a brief summary of our thoughts which will hopefully give you some top tips and advice in preparation for getting back to racing. Let us know if you have any suggestions or thoughts too, there are lots of ideas out there.
Why you get cramp & what causes it?
The exact cause of muscle cramps is still unknown, but the theories most commonly recognised with runners are listed below:
- Dehydration & electrolyte depletion
- Poor conditioning & muscles strength
- Muscle fatigue or lack or quality rest
- Overloading training & racing too quickly
- Lack of quality sleep
- High levels alcohol & caffeine
Other commonly related with muscle cramps include exercising in extreme heat. The understanding is that muscle cramps are more common during exercise in the heat because sweat contains fluids as well as electrolyte (salt, potassium, magnesium and calcium). If the nutrients fall to a certain levels, the chance of muscle spasms increases. Because athletes seem to be more likely to get cramps in the start of a training plan or pre season, near the end of (or the night after) intense or prolonged exercise, some feel that a lack of conditioning results in cramps.
How you can overcome it when running and any preventive measures you can do before running or after?
Until we learn the exact cause of muscle cramps, it will be difficult to say exactly how to prevent them but these top tips should help:
- Improve overall base fitness and follow a progressive, consistent training plan with adequate rest and recovery days and weeks
- Strengthen your core & trunk muscles to offer stability and efficient running – plus balance work and strength is beneficial
- Check your biomechanics at a specialised running shop, and wear the correct, well cushioned, supportive trainers
- Make sure you have something to eat – even if it’s just a couple of bites of a banana before early morning training, and take electrolyte with you. Consider what you eat the night before and see if any foods increase your cramp – take away contains a lot of salt so you could be starting depleted of nutrients for example.
- See a podiatrist if recommended to correct any biomechanical weaknesses
- See a nutritionist to check out your diet and make sure it is all good
- Warm up before exercise – dynamic, steady and relevant to what you are doing
- Gradually increase your pace during your run, concentrating on correct technique
- Increase your speed and mileage gradually
- Listen to your body – if you feel cramp beginning – lessen your pace and breathe
- Take an electrolyte drink with you and stay hydrated – wear appropriate clothing and sun protection
- Stretch regularly after exercise – at least 10mins, or try Pilates
- Have regular sports massage treatments
- Cross train to strengthen the muscles in a variety of ways
- Relax and enjoy your running – if you are tense and worried it might happen it is more likely it will so breath, gradually progress and enjoy it
There are many products on the market to help re hydrate you during and after a run, increasing the speed of recovery and reducing the risk of cramp and other problems.
Products Energised use and would recommend are:
Electrolytes: general, all fitness levels
Gels/Beans: for longer training runs, over an hour
If you just want the electrolyte and not any flavour or energy try this Elete: just add a few drops to water, particularly effective if you are prone to digestive problems with some of the more sugary drinks
Most muscle cramps are not serious. If your muscle cramps are severe, frequent, constant or of concern, see your doctor for further advice.
If we can support you in any way get in touch with the Team firstname.lastname@example.org
Transylvanian Bear Marathon Photograph (c) Wildman Photography