One of the most common problems older runners encounter is leg cramping during a run. Muscle cramps can be so uncomfortable that they derail your run on even your best day, so finding a solution fast is worthwhile if you want to continue your normal workout routine without issue. So how can you prevent muscle cramps that show up during or after your run? The solution is pretty simple: Get more calcium. That’s right, studies show that getting more calcium in your diet is a great way to avoid muscle cramps. How to prevent muscle cramps during and after a run is fairly easy — if you know what to look for and what to do. Let’s take a look.
Get some tips on handling some of the most common health issues runners face: Dealing with the Growing Pains of Running (Plus Free Song Playlist!)
Know What’s Causing Your Muscle Cramps
Before you figure out how to prevent muscle cramps during and after a run, it’s important to figure out which type of muscle cramps you have. After all, knowing the underlying cause will help you solve the issue. One type is due to fatigue, which means your muscles are feeling overloaded. This could be due to older age, not enough stretching, or excessive exercise—which means you’ve exercised either too hard or too long. This type of cramping is usually localized, and it comes on fast and hangs around, rather than being intermittent. Stretching, massaging, and icing your legs can typically soothe these muscle cramps.
The other type of muscle cramping runners experience is caused by electrolyte balance. This means your body doesn’t have enough electrolytes, such as sodium and chloride, likely because you sweated them out during your run. This type of cramping could also be due to not drinking enough water before and during the workout. Hints that your muscle cramps are due to electrolyte balance are that they come on gradually, are intermittent, and show up in several muscles rather than just one. How to prevent muscle cramps of this nature? Typically, getting more electrolytes into your system can help prevent muscle cramps, which means you should drink a sports drink with lots of sodium as soon as you feel the muscle cramps.
How to Prevent Muscle Cramps When You Run
No matter which type of muscle cramps you have during your run, you should learn how to prevent muscle cramps when you run, and how to treat them if they happen. Some great options include the following:
Make sure you stretch properly before every run. This should only take about ten minutes and should consist mostly of dynamic stretches, as these are better than static stretches before a run.
Here are some ideas on what to do before you start your run: The 8 Best Stretches To Do Before Running
Don’t overdo it:
If you’re constantly getting muscle cramps, it could be that your workouts are either too intense or too frequent. Consider shortening your runs or taking a day off here and there. If you find that the cramps go away after you do this, you’ll know that the underlying cause was muscle fatigue.
Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps and other problems when you run, so just don’t let it get to that point! Drink some water before and after your run, and consider even bringing a water bottle with you if possible.
Don’t let your electrolytes get too low:
The body naturally contains certain salts that are necessary for regulating nerve impulses and the water flow within your cells. These are called electrolytes, and if you work out too hard and sweat too much, you could lose too many. That’s why it’s so important to refuel your body with them, which means getting more magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium. Calcium, in particular, is essential for both bone health and normal muscle contractions, which means you need it if you want to avoid muscle cramps.
Fortunately, you have easy access to all the electrolytes you need. You can get them by drinking sports drinks after you run, or you can add FitFormula’s Calcium + D, a tasteless, odorless calcium powder to your bottled water. Regardless, drinking your electrolytes during or after your run are by far better than having to pop a pill before or after you work out. If you want to test out this method, order FitFormula’s Calcium +Vitamin D
More sources on muscle cramps:
How Can You Prevent Muscle Cramps?
The Connection Between Calcium and Muscle Cramps
Lessons Learned from Running the Chicago Marathon