Cramps is a common ailment of runners. Get tips from Singapore General Hospital (SGH) on how to prevent cramps during running.
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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
Practise deep breathing
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.
You lose about half a litre of fluid per half-hour 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.
Replenish electrolytes in your body
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 deplete your electrolytes and, in turn, cause muscle cramps. Consuming electrolyte-fortified sports drinks during a marathon or half-marathon may help prevent muscle cramps.
Do stretch and warm up exercises
To relieve the pain from side stitches, stop and raise your arms above your head. Stretch the opposite side the stitch. Repeat 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.
Get a sports massage
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.
Time your meals
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.
Build up speed gradually
Running too fast during the early part of your run may cause overexertion and muscle cramps. Build up your pace gradually.
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