Running Cramps

Do You Get Cramps While Running?

There probably isn’t an athlete out there who hasn’t, at some point, experienced cramps while running. Cramping can occur in various parts of the body and hit with an intensity that catches you completely off guard. The human body can tolerate quite a lot of physical exertion, however studies have shown that it doesn’t matter how good of shape your body is in, it is still possible to experience cramps while running. The good news is that there are a few measures that you can take to try to minimize this occurrence.

The Dreaded Side Stitch

The side stitch or abdominal cramp is one of the worst cramps around, yet also one of the most common among runners. This type of cramp generally affects one’s side, just under the rib cage, however it can also affect the central lower abdomen. The side stitch, medically known as an exercise-related transient abdominal pain, is common in runner and swimmers and seems to not have any relation to a specific gender. The truth about the side stitch is that doctors are not exactly sure what causes it, although there are a few theories. One theory is that the abdominal or side cramps could be brought on if one eats or drinks something high in carbohydrates or that contains reconstituted fruit juices shortly before or during an exercise. Another theory is that stitches occur as a result of taking shallow breaths rather than large breaths from deep within the lungs. Shallow breathing can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the muscles, particularly those of the abdomen, causing them to cramp. Yet another theory is that the jarring motion caused by stretching and tensing can lead to cramps while running.

Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are the other common form of cramp to affect runners. A running puts a great deal of stress on the muscles in the legs, it is very important to take the time to stretch properly before a run. It is also important that one does not try to take on too much exercise in a short period of time. Leg muscles need time to grow and become accustomed to the physical strain and shocking force that occurs while running. If a newbie to the world of running decided to jump into a 5k marathon with very little training or practice, they would likely find themselves in the throws of a some serious cramping shortly into the marathon.

How to Avoid Cramps while Running

In order to lessen your chances of nursing cramps after running, there are a few things you need to be aware of. Cramps typically occur as the body’s way of telling you that something is up. It is a good idea to stop running as soon as the cramps become painful or bothersome to prevent damage to the tissues. If the muscle or surrounding tissues do become damaged they are much more likely to experience cramping in the future. Always take the time to do a proper stretch before any kind of activity and be sure to keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of cramping and may be the reason you suffer from cramps while running. You may also avoid cramping by eating pasta, whole grain bread, or another carbohydrate-rich food several hours before the race (never right before the race, though). This will provide your body with sufficient amounts of energy that can quickly and easily be converted to give you an energy boost. You might also want to consider practicing deep breathing exercises. As mentioned earlier, a lack of oxygen is another prominent cause of muscle cramps because without oxygen our tissues simply cannot function as they should. Keep these tips in mind while planning your next run and hopefully you will find greater enjoyment during your exercise!