Muscle cramps can be quite painful. They can stop you dead in your tracks whether you’re in the middle of your jog, cycling or lifting weights. They usually occur in large skeletal muscles, like your leg muscles, for instance. These can be extremely painful and can really throw off your workout. The science behind cramps isn’t completely understood but research suggests that cramps occur when there are random discharges of motor nerves that cause sudden and painful involuntary contraction of a muscle.
Let’s now take a look at how to get rid of them.
1. Warming-Up Is Important
While warming up, make sure make sure you include a combination of both static and dynamic stretching exercises. With a full warm-up routine, which involves both aerobic activity and drills, you lower the chances of your muscles getting strained considerably. Also, as you work out your major muscles allowing for a good blood flow to these areas, it will help you perform higher intensity movements without causing your muscles to tighten or cramp.
2. Always Keep Carbs And Water Handy
It’s important to stay well hydrated on the day you’re working out, the day before that and the day after that. Dehydration can disrupt the balance of fluids in the body and cause muscles to cramp. In fact, for long and intensive workouts, you may want to consider a beverage containing electrolytes and carbs. During long workout sessions, you will need to use carbohydrate-based sport nutrition products, to prevent fatigue. These may not be needed for up to 10 miles, but if you plan to run longer, you may need to consider keeping these beverages handy for you to be able to make it all the way to the finish line. This becomes especially critical for people competing in endurance events like Ironman, to prevent cramping, stomach pain or exhaustion.
While working out, you don’t just lose fluids through sweating, which can be replenished through beverages, but you also lose electrolytes like sodium, which are essential for neuromuscular functioning.
3. Work On Improving Your Range Of Movement
If you spend a lot of your time traveling or at a desk, it will help to work on improving your range of motion. Mobility training will help loosen your muscles and help you perform many movements with ease and without straining your muscles or causing them to cramp.
4. Keep Your Body Relaxed
It’s important that you keep your body relaxed even during high- intensity training although it might be a difficult thing to remember to do that, as you’re working out. For instance, while you’re running, try to relax your face, unclench your jaw and try not to form a fist with your fingers. This way, you’ll not be wasting your energy and putting a strain on other muscles of your body as you work out.
5. Keep It Nice And Easy
Progressing in your training slowly and at the right pace, is critical. If you’re training for a marathon, for instance, don’t jump from running 4 miles a day to 12. It’ll only cause muscle strain and you’ll end up with cramps. Give your muscles time to cope with the increasing intensity of workout.
6. Try Foam Rolling
Light foam rolling before and after your workout can be quite beneficial. It can help ease out the knots in your hamstrings, quads and calves, places notorious for cramping. You will notice the comfort you feel when working out after foam rolling for a bit. You can even roll out the tightness and soreness after your workout for added benefits.
7. Massage The Affected Area
If you end up having a cramp while working out, stop right there and relax the muscle that’s cramping. Don’t try to continue working out despite the cramp, hoping for it to sort itself out. You’ll only end up making it worse. You can try massaging the affected muscle to help the muscle relax the contraction. Even light stretching may work, but exercise caution and remember not to overdo it.
8. Aim To Strengthen All Muscles, Large And Small
Strength training, as the name suggests, is done so that our muscles get strengthened and not get fatigued easily. But what we end up doing more often than not, is targeting only the larger muscle groups. For instance, along with working on your leg muscles, strengthening the foot muscles is vital too and foot strengthening exercises like picking up marbles or a towel with your toes can be quite helpful.