Cramps are a nightmare for anyone who does any sort of sport. Nobody has definitively proven how cramps occur, but there are several steps that can be taken to minimise the risk of your muscles cramping up.
Do A Proper Warm Up
The importance of a proper warm up is well known in the sport and fitness world. Anyone who has done fitness or sport to a high level knows that a warm up (and warm down) exercises are a crucial part of the process.
To get the most benefit, your warm up should gently stretch your muscles and get blood flowing around your body. A warm up is exactly that – it’s ‘warming up’ your body, ready for the increased exertion you will be putting on it. Warm ups not only help prevent cramps, but the help prevent other injuries that happen when you put a strain on muscles that have not been properly warmed up. You wouldn’t get straight out of bed and do a 5k run would you?
Train Hard For Your Sport
When you’re training for your sport, you should be focusing directly on what particular event you will be competing for. You not only need to train yourself to achieve the skills you need, but you also need to train your body for the given sport. A 100m sprinter isn’t going to last long in a marathon as their body is not used to such prolonged exercise.
Putting this sort of pressure on your muscles is a sure way to cramp up. Again, this can also cause injury – if you train solely of sprinting and then try to push yourself too hard in a long distance run, you could end up with more than just cramps.
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
Whenever you workout, exercise or put any strain on your body, you will sweat. You body sweats to keep your temperature down by taking some heat with it when it evaporates. Your breath also contains water, and you can lose a lot of fluid by breathing fast and sweating. Your body will need to have that water replaced.
You should always keep yourself hydrated – if you don’t you may start to feel dizzy and have an increased heart rate. Staying hydrated is a key factor in general, not just in sport. You should always be able to have access to water, such as on a run. Many runners use the easy grip water bottles so they can keep hydrated on the go.
Dress For The Occasion
You should never wear sports clothing purely for the appearance – you should choose practical clothing that is suitable for your activity. Never wear clothing that is too tight. If you restrict your body’s movement with your clothing, you are going to reduce blood flow around your body.
Blood flow is necessary to get oxygen to your muscles, and without it you can end up with cramps (or even injury). Even something as simple as wearing looser socks, or rolling your socks down can reduce the chance of cramps.
Look After Your Body’s Nutrition
When you are working out, you not only lose water through your sweat, you lose vital body nutrients. It has been speculated that people who are prone to calf cramps could not be getting enough of the nutrients their body needs. A mixture of calcium, sodium, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, among others, are all needed to keep your body in top shape.
It’s not necessary to over analyse your diet, but looking after your body with a proper diet and nutrition intake, will help you reap the rewards in the long run. Remember the phrase – look after your body and your body will look after you!
Cramps can be a real pain (literally), but by following a few key points, you can reduce the chance of it happening. Don’t forget, to keep hydrated, and do your warm ups!