HOW TO TREAT AND PREVENT MUSCLE CRAMPS
Almost every runner has experienced muscle cramps while running at one time or another, especially if you get muscle cramps while running a marathon. The most frustrating thing may be that they can come out of nowhere, and what causes muscle cramps while running is somewhat unknown.
Muscle cramps can be separated into two distinct types:
• Muscle Overloading and Fatigue Cramps. This type of muscle cramp occurs from repeated or extended loading of a particular muscle group and muscles that are in a shortened position (calf muscle cramps while running).
• Electrolyte Imbalance. This type of cramp is typically due to extensive sweating and significant electrolyte losses, especially potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Source: Runner’s World
Source: Men’s Health
Treating muscle cramps
Immediate treatment of muscle overloading and fatigue cramps include:
• Passive stretching and massage
• Active contraction of an antagonist muscle group (e.g. contracting hamstring to stretch quadriceps)
• Icing affected muscle group
For electrolyte imbalance cramps, immediate electrolyte replacement is needed to increase the electrolytes in your systems, as well as massage and icing to relax the muscles. In some cases, IV fluids may be needed if muscle cramping is severe.
Prevent muscle cramps
Muscle cramps are of utmost unpleasant condition, but with proper preparation and planning, you can give yourself a fighting chance against these problems.
• Stay hydrated: Water is necessary to maintain adequate blood volume, which helps your muscles get the oxygen they need to function optimally. Therefore, it is recommended that you allow your body to consume enough water before, during, and after your race.
• Replenish electrolytes: as essential as maintaining water intake, electrolytes are important for regulating blood chemistry and controlling muscle action. It’s best to eat electrolyte-rich foods that help with muscle cramps and drink fluids infused with electrolytes.
• Stretch: Stretching can help prevent muscle cramps, especially those that may be caused by overloading. When your muscles are warmed up and limber before running, you will be less likely to cramp a muscle.
Source: Harvard Health