Stop Muscle Cramps – What You Should Know to Avoid Them

At Maximize Health we are often asked about cramping while playing sport and how to stop it.

Most of the solution to this annoying and sometimes devastating issue of cramps (eg not completing the race, or not the completing the GF) is through the preparation.

Drinking water at a TRL game

Proper hydration is a key factor in avoiding cramps

Here are 5 Tips to help you avoid cramping while playing sport

1. Hydration

The amount of fluid intake is paramount to avoiding cramps. This process may need to begin days before the event/game, especially when we are dealing with summer temperatures and humidity, and particularly important if you are training right up to the event and/or you have a physically demanding job.

Many sources will quote 2-3 litres of water per day as an appropriate level of fluid intake but we’ve found that depending on conditions/physical load that the baseline can rise to 3-5 litres per day.

Remember, appropriate re-hydration post event is also critical to peak performance for the next training session or game/event.

2. Stretching

Dispel the myth that static stretches (sustained holds) are not required for sport. If you continually cramp in training or games/events the source could be from tight muscles or nerve mobility issues.

One of the simple ways to reduce this tightness and restriction is to hold your stretches, which will gain muscle length and improve nerve mobility, and allow the muscle and nerve to operate at the optimum length and mobility, which in many instances goes a long way to reducing or even stopping cramps while training or competing.

3. Electrolytes

Yes, this can be a very important part of the process to stop cramps but needs to be used in conjunction with appropriate hydration and nutrition planning.

There are many products on the market and many are appropriate if used correctly. Commercially available ready- made sports drinks can be a little too concentrated and may need to be diluted eg use half a bottle of the sports drink per day, filling the bottle with water. Or access the powder form and experiment with appropriate concentration levels for you.

4. Magnesium/Potassium

Some people will lack appropriate levels of important elements/minerals necessary for optimal muscle function, including the cessation of cramps. An appropriately planned diet for your circumstances, body type, and make-up should go a long way to supplying your body with these much-needed minerals.

However, as in all things related to the human body, there will be many of you that will need a supplement to help your body keep up with the demands you are placing on it. We have supplied our clients with a magnesium supplement over the years to help reduce the instances of cramp.

5. Nutrition

What you put into your body will have an effect on the incidence of cramps. Processed foods limit peak performance in many different ways and can also increase cramps. Some foods are a good source of nutrients that help prevent cramps eg. Bananas are an often quoted source of potassium which helps in the reduction of cramps.

As we all know alcohol post- match will affect the results you want on a whole range of health and performance topics and can most definitely affect your body’s ability to prevent cramps for your next sport/exercise sessions.

If you are going to use pre-workout type supplements, including high caffeine products, make sure to trial at training or warm up games/events to avoid adverse reactions in regards to dehydration and cramping from diuretic effects of such products

 

As always folks tips like these may not be fully comprehensive for your situation and seeking out a health professional is definitely a worthwhile exercise if cramping persists and is affecting your ability to bring your A game.

Further investigations may be required including blood tests and urine sampling or sweat testing. The solution may not be immediate and can require you to trial many or all of these tips or other cramp prevention strategies. If you have any questions regarding these tips, prevention of cramps or other health issues please do not hesitate to contact us on +61 7 3343 5494 or macgregor@maximizehealthgroup.com.au