Running Cramps: the Most Inconvenient Running Buddy

Running Cramps: the Most Inconvenient Running Buddy

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Running cramps! Why do runners get them and how do you deal with them on the fly? This illusive side effect of exercise may seem simple and fleeting in theory, but its effects are more than inconvenient during training.

Hours and hours have been spent trying to work out exactly how and why we experience running cramping. Cramping is not only limited to activity, as ladies will know, but getting your body moving seems to put you at a higher risk of getting a cramp or two.

Enough limping to the roadside!

While some minor cramps are more of a nuisance than a threat to your health, cramping in the wrong place at the wrong time and have disastrous effects. Muscles cramps in runner happen most often in the legs, stomach and sides. While predicting when and where you are going to cramp up is difficult – if not impossible – medical professional have a few tips of preventative measures for avoiding cramps.

Why do runners get cramps?

Dehydration and Sodium Loss

Professor Tim Noakes, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., has recently spoken against dehydration and sodium loss as a main culprit behind cramping. Research shows that ultramarathon runners show little to no change in electrolyte levels before and after a race.

Muscle Fatigue

A possible alternative for the dehydration vein of thinking was that it is not dehydration alone that causes cramping, but the effects of bodily dehydration on the muscles. Dehydration and sodium loss leads to muscles fatigue. Expansion on this theory has shown that runners engaging in longer races are more likely to get a cramp due to muscle fatigue.

Preventing running cramps

Train to be strong

Stronger muscles mean less muscle fatigue. Add muscle strength training into your cross-training schedule to prevent cramps in the long run.

Train like you mean it

Training your body to run longer and further will prevent muscles fatigue when it is time for you to shine. This means that training well will lead to a lower likelihood of cramping up during a marathon.

Train to run the race

If you train to run six minutes a kilometre, but run your races at five min/km you muscles are very likely to experience cramping. Your muscles will not be accustom to working that hard and will become fatigued faster.

All in all, the best way to prevent cramping is to avoid situations where you are likely to get cramps. If you find that you cramp more in hot weather, then take it easy in summer. If you find that you start cramping at the 38-40km mark, then ease up during training and on race day.