Buddy Up Workout

Prevent Muscle Cramps

September 8th, 2015 by Liz

Ouch!!  How to Prevent Muscle Cramps

Prevent Muscle Cramps

Prevent Muscle Cramps

There isn’t much worse than getting a painful muscle cramp mid-workout, and unfortunately most of us have suffered from them a time or two. But what is your body trying to tell you when your muscle seizes up unexpectedly, and what should you do about it?

While you may be cramping up simply because you slept funny, other more serious culprits include dehydration, vitamin deficiency, lack of a proper warm-up, and excessive heat.

First, let’s talk about dehydration and vitamin deficiency. We have special nerves that signal our muscles to contract or relax during exercise, but when we’re dehydrated these signals become skewed. When we sweat we lose a ton of water, sodium, and potassium and if we don’t replace these loses our system becomes imbalanced and can cause muscle spasms or cramps. Not fun! When this happens take a break to stretch and re-hydrate before resuming your workout. To help prevent muscle cramping remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day and try cutting back on coffee, soda, and alcohol. Also make sure to get plenty of potassium by eating potassium rich foods like banana and avocado.

Not getting a proper warm up in before a workout is another cause of muscle cramping. Exercise causes our body's temperature to rise and if we don’t allow this to happen gradually it can be quite a shock to our system. A proper warm up helps increase our muscle elasticity, promotes blood flow, and allows oxygen and nutrients to hit your muscles. A warm-up should be dynamic and roughly mimic the workout you are about to do, but with less intensity. When done properly your heart rate will start to elevate and you’ll begin to feel warm.

Another common culprit for painful cramping is excessive heat. If your body’s temperature rises faster than it can cool down, your muscles can overheat. Again this imbalance in our bodies system can cause cramping. The best way to prevent this is to stay hydrated and slow your pace if you’re working out in an environment that’s hotter than usual.

In summery for happy, healthy muscles drink plenty of water throughout the day, get plenty of potassium through nutrient rich foods like bananas and avocado, and always warm up before a workout. If your muscles do start cramping up, take a break from your workout to stretch and re-hydrate. Resume your workout at a slower pace if needed.

In Health,
Liz Sawyer, NASM CPT, FNS

Resources:

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/exercise-cramps

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jmace6.htm

http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/5-ways-to-end-muscle-cramps

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