I teach a lot of Spinning and coach running, triathlon and bootcamps and often clients suffer from Cramps which are unexplained. So, I thought I would write a brief Blog to help you understand and manage cramps if you suffer from them, to help you enjoy your racing and reduce the risk of injury.
Annoyingly there is no definitive cause of cramp although some people would argue it is genetic, there are several other reasons present in the Muscle and Nerve Jounral including:
* Jumping into your main session without a long enough Warm Up:
How long each person needs to warm up varies and as we become older we often require a little longer. Therefore it is vital that we spend enough time doing a dynamic warm up to increase the blood flow, with short bursts at a quicker pace to get the muscles used to the aim of the session. The membranes of the muscle cells rupture under stress and these stimulate the grouth of new, stronger muscle fubres. However, too much stress too soon lead to the vital electrolytes leaving from the muscle area and causing the possibilty cramps.
** Over training, fatigue & lack of steady progression
It is really important that you increase your training by only 10% per week max, with every fourth week having a easy, plateau week. One theory suggests that very long runs overload and fatigue the nervous system so the muscles are overstimulated, causing cramps. Sports massage is proven to help relax and recover over used muscles and prevent injury and cramps.
** Eating too much refined sugars, and processed foods:
When you eat sugars and refined foods you put your body in a state of high fuelled activity and unstabilises the blood sugar levels which will affect the optimal functioning of the muscle contraction, and waste filtering which can lead to cramps. Although sugars can be beneficial before a speed session, and long run – generally they should be avoided and you should rely on wholegrain complex carbohydrates to stabilise blood sugars and allow the body to process the fuel more efficiently.
** The temperature you train in & clothing you wear
Muscles seem to be more inclined to cramp in very hot or cold weather – or when there is a sudden change in the temperature you are training in. In cold weather compression kit – such as Skins – can be really effective in keeping the blood flow moving and muscles warm ( we have 10% off vouchers for Moti in Bristol!). Good warm up and effective hydration contributes to managing this effectively.
** Dehydration and salt imbalances
It is a delicate balance as too much water dilutes levels of electrolytes your muscles need to process signals from the nerves, resulting in cramp and too little will cause cramp also! Plain water is fine when you are doing an easy run for less than 45mins, otherwise a isotonic drink will help to keep the electrolytes balanced in the system – TORQ products are great as they have no added sugars or additives (Visit the Energised shop to order your discounted stock!)
See you at the Afghan Charity Big Circuits on the 3rd July if not before 🙂