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Assoc Prof Darren Tay, Senior Consultant from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Singapore General Hospital​ (SGH), a member of the SingHealth​ group, gives tips on how to prevent cramps while running.

​​​7 Tips to prevent cramps during running

  1. Practise deep breathing

  2. As shallow breathing is a main cause of side cramps or stomach cramps during a run, learn to take deep, full breaths from the diaphragm and not from the chest.

  3. Stay hydrated

  4. You lose about half a litre of fluid per half-ho​ur of intense exercise. Prevent muscle cramps by drinking about 500 ml (16 oz, or two cups of water) at least two hours before a run. Before starting the race, drink another 125 ml (4 oz, or half a cup) of water. Subsequently, aim to drink about half a cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes during the run. Avoid carbonated drinks.

  5. Replenish electrolytes in your body

  6. Electrolytes such as sodium and potassium help with proper muscle contraction as well as general hydration. Profuse sweating during a long race, especially in hot and humid weather, may depl​ete your electrolytes and, in turn, cause muscle cramps. Consuming electrolyte-fortified sports drinks during a marathon or half-marathon may help prevent muscle cramps.

  7. Do stretch and warm up exercises

  8. To relieve the pain from side stitches, stop and raise your arms above your head. Stretch the opposite side the stitch. Repe​at several times until the pain eases. You should spend at least 10 minutes stretching your calves, hamstrings and quadriceps muscles before a run to prevent muscle cramps.

  9. Get a sports massage

  10. Going for regular sports massages can help relax knotted muscles and promote better blood flow to the muscles. You are less likely to get muscle cramps if muscles are stretched and flexible.

  11. Time your meals

  12. Wait at least two hours after a meal before you go running. Avoid heavy meals and especially fatty and deep fried foods as they are harder to digest.

  13. Build up speed gradually

  14. Running too fast during the early part of your run may cause overexertion and muscle cramps. Build up your pace gradually.

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Ref: R14​

Check out our other articles on running:

Jogging in the City: What You Need to Know

Why You Shouldn't Overlook Running Injuries

Home Remedies for Common Running Injuries

Tips to Avoid Common Running Injuries

Training Plan for Your First Marathon