After building up the motivation and effort to go out for a run, the worst feeling is when you get a runner’s cramp and have to stop your workout until it goes away. Sometimes this pain is so discomforting you have to end your run completely and you miss your workout for the day. Here are some tips on how to minimize the chances of these cramps, and what to do when they strike!
What Causes Cramps?
There are different types of cramps that you may be experiencing while running – side cramps, stomach cramps, and muscle cramps. Side cramps are often felt in the lower abdominal area or in your side as the name implies. This is typically caused by shallow breathing, when it strikes it is a good indication that you are breathing incorrectly. The imbalance of blood electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and calcium may also contribute to these side cramps.
Stomach cramps can also be associated with the way you are breathing while running. Or if you have too much fluid or food in your stomach this interferes with the ability to take larger breaths. Muscle cramps in your legs or body are typically associated with dehydration. Make sure you are always drinking a lot of water throughout the day.
If you are running and you happen to get a side cramp place your hand on your stomach and begin breathing deeply. If you are breathing from your lower lungs your stomach should rise and fall. Typically, beginners experience this more often as it takes some time to learn how to breath correctly while running.
Try not to start your run off too fast, this can also be contributed to your cramps. Begin your run with a slow walk or jog and ease yourself into it, as you get comfortable with your breathing and warm up your legs.
Nerves can also play a role when it comes to cramping. Taking deep breaths before you start your run will calm you down and steer you away from shallow breathing.
What to Eat and Drink
If you are continuously getting cramps while running, start writing down what you eat before you head out on your job. There may be a connection between your diet and your cramps as well as the amount of time you allow yourself to digest. Sometimes you have to wait two hours after eating, and if you are still cramping allow three hours. It all depends on the person so try out a few different light snacks and see what works the best for you.
- Try drinking 16 to 20 ounces of water 45 minutes before you run
- Drink 2 to 4 ounces of water every 15 minutes during a run
- Make sure you incorporate a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and water
Treating Cramps While Running
Even though it is frustrating to stop your run and walk you should try to do so when you begin feeling a cramp. Make sure you do your lower lung breathing while you walk for a couple of minutes, or until your cramp goes away. If you have water or a sports drink make sure you drink some to restore your electrolyte balance.