Suffering from cramps during exercise?
Yes? Well you’re not alone! It’s estimated that two in three athletes experience cramps at some stage during exercise. Cramps can come on suddenly during exercise causing sudden, tight and intense pain. These will most commonly occur in the muscle group directly involved in the exercise task.
So what causes a cramp? Hmmm….. That’s a tricky question. There are a few theories, with the most agreed upon cause being fatigue in the cramping muscle. Other studies have looked into blood levels of potassium, magnesium, calcium and sodium, but there is no conclusive evidence. There has also been research into the potential role of hydration in cramps, but studies have shown similar hydration levels in athletes who cramp and those who don’t. With that said, it’s still important to replace fluid and sodium lost during exercise.
So what can you do to reduce the risk of a cramp?
- Train – cramps are less common in well-trained athletes
- Adequately fuel – make sure you’re consuming adequate amounts of carbohydrate before and during exercise
- Hydrate – dehydration may contribute to muscle fatigue, so make sure you optimise your hydration.