Preventing and Avoiding Muscle Cramps

Cramps are a nuisance that usually hit at the end of intense workouts or during endurance events. Cramps occur because of muscle fatigue. If you carefully progress your workouts, you will avoid unnecessary cramps. Heat, and not being used to the heat, increases the frequency of cramps. When the season changes and summer arrives, be sure to ease your body into the temperature change.

Additionally, plan your fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrate ingestion to help avoid or delay muscle cramps. Studies on fluids and cramps have produced mixed results. Some studies find no correlation, but others show that consuming fluids and electrolytes to avoid dehydration will prevent, or at least delay, muscle cramps. The benefits of avoiding dehydration are numerous, it’s not 100 percent guaranteed that you won’t cramp, but consuming adequate fluids during exercise will still improve performance.

The electrolyte of most concern during exercise is sodium, or what is found as sodium chloride in table salt. We lose the most sodium in sweat compared to other electrolytes. Both water and sodium are lost in sweat, replacement of water without sodium can lead to dangerously low blood sodium levels, called hyponatremia. Carbohydrate depletion will also lead to muscle cramps. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel used during exercise.

Follow these five steps to prevent muscle cramps:

1. Train appropriately.

2. Acclimate yourself to the environment.

3. Consume the right amount of fluids for your body to prevent dehydration.

4. Choose salty foods or sodium rich sports products before, during and after exercise.

5. Prevent carbohydrate depletion by consuming carbohydrates before your workout and during your workout if it is longer than 60-90 minutes.

Cramps are a nuisance that usually hit at the end of intense workouts or duringendurance events. Cramps occur because of muscle fatigue. If you carefully progress yourworkouts, you will avoid unnecessary cramps. Heat, and not being used to the heat, increasesthe frequency of cramps. When the season changes and summer arrives, be sure to ease yourbody into the temperature change.

Additionally, plan your fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrate ingestion to help avoid ordelay muscle cramps. Studies on fluids and cramps have produced mixed results. Somestudies find no correlation, but others show that consuming fluids and electrolytes to avoiddehydration will prevent, or at least delay, muscle cramps. The benefits of avoiding dehydrationare numerous, it’s not 100 percent guaranteed that you won’t cramp, but consuming adequatefluids during exercise will still improve performance.

The electrolyte of most concern during exercise is sodium, or what is found as sodiumchloride in table salt. We lose the most sodium in sweat compared to other electrolytes. Bothwater and sodium are lost in sweat, replacement of water without sodium can lead todangerously low blood sodium levels, called hyponatremia. Carbohydrate depletion will also leadto muscle cramps. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel used during exercise.

Follow these five steps to prevent muscle cramps:

1. Train appropriately.

2. Acclimate yourself to the environment.

3. Consume the right amount of fluids for your body to prevent dehydration.

4. Choose salty foods or sodium rich sports products before, during and after exercise.

5. Prevent carbohydrate depletion by consuming carbohydrates before your workout and during your workout if it is longer than 60­90 minutes.