It is likely that anyone who is a runner has come across the awful pain of calf cramping at one stage or another. This can be debilitating and can cause a lost race or a premature end to a running session. For example, consider the following scenario. You are a runner who has made it through 7km in 10k race.
You are just barely maintaining contact with the leaders and the road is beginning to incline. It is starting to grow warmer and you missed your last chance to take in liquid. You are wearing calf length socks and there is a restriction of blood flow to your legs.
In summary, we have several things at play right now. These include:
- Increase in muscle strain
- Dee dehydration
- A significant loss of essential salts
- Highly restricted blood flow
Basically, a combination of such factors will easily lead to intense calf cramps and pain, which could lead to you stopping your run, and losing all of your hard work so far.
Calf cramps can be painful, and hard to deal with, but thankfully there are steps that you can take before and during a big run (and training!) to make sure that you lessen your chances of getting this nasty set of pain.
There is no concrete answer to why cramps happen, but we all know the warning signs and therefore, we have several ways that we can prevent them from overwhelming us and taking control of our lives.
How to Prevent Cramps
1. A Proper Warm Up
A warm up is completely essential to ensuring that you do not cramp up. The pain that you feel is often your muscles seizing up due to too much stress too quickly. A proper warm up should stretch your muscles, warm them up and increase your ability to stay limber and move well.
If you exert cold muscles too hard, too quickly, you will experience high levels of pain and discomfort, which could stop you in your tracks. Not only do you need to warm up, but you need to do a cool down session after your run. This prevents post-work out cramping, as well as helps your muscles heal faster and better, to ensure that you do not develop this problem again later on during your following work out.
2. Train Hard, Run Easy
This is a very common saying, which is quite simple really. When you train, make sure that you train for the event you will be competing on. Not only that, but train harder than you need to.
When it comes time for the event, your body should be over prepared, so that you do not push yourself to your limits during the race, and do yourself an injury. Prepare your body for the strain of the event, so that you are ready and able to deal with it when the time comes.
3. Keep Hydrated
The most important part of any sport is to ensure that you keep hydrated. You lose moisture due to sweat and the environment when you train and when you run. This will lead to dehydration if you are not properly prepared for anything. You should make sure you keep consistently hydrated to make sure that your muscles can cope with the exertion.
If you begin to experience symptoms such as dizziness, a rapid heartbeat or extra levels of physical stress, you need to hydrate. Make sure you drink before, after and during sport.
4. Be Mindful Of Your Clothing Choice
Make sure that you do not wear clothing that is too tight or restrictive. Restricting blood flow can cause pain, injury and intense cramping if you are not very careful. Always wear appropriate clothing.
5. Eat Properly
It is vital to make sure that you get the right levels of nutrients into your body. Do not skimp on nutrition, or fill yourself full of junk food. It is very important that you make sure you get enough of the following nutrients, to compensate for the ones you lose: potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Make sure that you look after your body by eating the right foods at all time.
This may seem like a lot of work, but for those of us who have experienced the intense agony of calf cramping, you will understanding that this is a necessity if you want to succeed in your chosen field. By eating right, keeping hydrated, warming up and wearing sensible workout gear, you will be able to prevent debilitating cramps, and thus succeed; progress and thrive in your chosen area of sport. So next time you have a big run, be mindful of your body and what it needs. It may just save you a whole lot of hurt!