Picture this: your fast paced run comes to a quick halt when your left calf muscle twists and shoots pain throughout your leg. Or, you’re sprinting for home plate when the muscle in your groin begins stabbing you like a sword. For most athletes, picturing these scenarios requires no stretch of the imagination.
Muscle cramps are common problems for athletes. When muscle cramps strike, they cause burning sensations, concentrated tightness, and extreme pain that can cripple your workout or activity. Thankfully, muscle cramps are preventable. But, if you’ve already been struck by the pain of a dreaded muscle cramp, there are ways to relieve your pain quickly.
Prevent Muscle Cramps
Hydration is your first line of defence against muscle cramps. Not only does your body lose many electrolytes and fluids during workouts, moisture loss can occur throughout the entire day as well. Good hydration in the hours before and after your workout as well as throughout physical activity will prevent cramping. This will help your body maintain its normal functions and remove waste that lies within your muscles.
The second most important way to prevent cramping is to warm up your muscles before engaging in strenuous activity. If you have regular issues with cramping, your physiotherapist can help design a good warm up program to ward off these cramps. However, if you are just looking to prevent muscle cramps, gentle movements are essential. A brisk stroll and stretching of the major muscles can help get you ready for a physically demanding workout.
How to Manage Pain Caused by Muscle Cramps
If you’ve not taken measures of prevention and you are in the midst of dealing with the pain of severe cramping or athletic injury, there are measures you can take to stop the pain. As with prevention, hydration is essential. If you are dehydrated, make every effort to consume herbal teas, water, sports drinks, or other non-alcoholic, decaffeinated beverages. This will help your body remove wastes such as lactic acid (which can cause cramps and soreness) from your muscles.
Stretching is important after injury as well. Gentle stretching also helps to remove wastes from muscles and discourages stiffness in the injured areas. A physiotherapist can help you design a recovery program tailored to your age, condition, and injuries sustained. He or she can help you to stretch without causing further injury. They may also have suggestions to help you prevent cramping in the future and tailor your workouts to your current fitness level.
Most athletes will suffer from muscle cramping at some point in time. However, prevention is possible in many cases. A good warm up and proper hydration are important for having a great workout. If you are currently suffering from muscle cramps, hydration and gentle stretching can also help you recover quickly.
Also, a physiotherapist may be able to help you in both prevention and treatment of cramps. By helping you assess your current fitness level and abilities, as well as developing a warm up program specifically for you, a physiotherapist can help decrease the amount of suffering you experience from muscle cramps and prevent them altogether.