If you love to run, but can't because you always wind up with cramps in your legs and side, then learn how to get rid of running cramps. Cramps are involuntary muscle spasms where the fibers in a muscle all try to contract at once causing you severe pain. There are many causes for muscle cramps, but most running cramps are caused by muscle exhaustion, dehydration, electrolyte deficiencies and lack of oxygen. With a few preventative measures you can greatly reduce the number of cramps that you get, and with the proper treatment, you can reduce the amount of time that cramps keep you away from the action.
- Stretch properly before you run. Spend between thirty seconds and a minute, per muscle, stretching. Make sure you stretch you quad, your hamstring, your sides and both of your calf muscles. Take your time and slowly lower yourself into the stretch. Bend the muscles as far as it will go and hold it for a few seconds, then return the muscle to its original position.
- Drink plenty of sports drink during your run, especially on long runs. Both dehydration and low electrolyte levels can lead to muscle cramps. Sports drinks will fix both of these problems.
- Breathe properly. When you get tired during your run, it might seem easier to take short breaths as you struggle for air, but in fact you should be taking longer breaths. Short breaths will rob your body of oxygen and can lead to muscle cramps. Force yourself to keep your breathing at the same pace that it was when you started running.
- Force the cramping muscle to finish its contraction. It will be much harder to stretch the muscle out if the muscle fibers are trying to contract. Grasp both sides of the cramping muscle and push them together. This will be extremely painful, but only for a short time. After a few seconds, the muscle will be contracted and the pain will lessen. Repeat the process to ensure the entire muscle is done cramping, then move on to stretching the muscle.
- Position your body to stretch the muscle out, then start massaging it. Work the heel of your hand into the muscle for several minutes until the pain is mostly gone. If it was a mild cramp you can continue on, but for major cramps you should give the muscle some rest, if you can.
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