Recently my wife returned from a run and nearly stumped me with a question. “Why do I get cramps in my side when I run?” “Uhhhhh…….,” I responded back. “It’s probably because you are dehydrated. Drink more water!” She seemed content with my answer but I knew there was probably more to it. I have a fairly vast knowledge of Health and Fitness principles, but how is it that I’ve never explored this concept more in depth? Because I am a loving husband and couldn’t leave her with an educated guess, I knew I needed to do some research. The following is a brief summary of what I found regarding the dreaded Side Cramps & Muscle Cramps!
Why Do I Get Cramps?
Shallow breathing is a major cause of side cramps. You want to breathe deeply from your lower lungs. Your stomach should visibly rise and fall if you are breathing deeply. Also, be aware of what foods you consume prior to exercise. Your “cramp” feeling may just be an upset stomach. Try varying what you eat prior to exercising to see if that fixes the problem.
Muscle Pain (Usually in the lower legs)
Cramping in your lower legs can be caused by several factors. One of the main factors is often fatigue. Running for prolonged periods of time puts stress on the muscles. You can condition your legs for this type of vigorous activity by incorporating Plyometric Drills into your weekly workouts. Also, be sure to adequately hydrate prior to exercising. A lack of Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, or Sodium may also be the culprit.
Help Prevent Cramping
- Hydrate (Water / Sports Drinks with electrolytes)
- Maintain a Balanced Diet
- Consider taking a Multivitamin
- Breathe deeply with your lower lungs while running
- Incorporate Plyometrics into your weekly workouts (Here is a great example)
Most of us will experience a cramp sometime in our life. I know I have. Have you? Cramps can really be a pain in the butt! (Or in your side and lower legs) Hope this article helps. Don’t let cramping deter you from working out. Scratch it off your list of excuses. Try these techniques and let us know what you think! Now get off the computer and go for a run! J