There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a cramp, especially when you’re on track for a PB! But what is it? And what can be done about it? These are two very common questions we get asked here at TSMC.
What is it?
Cramps, also known as ‘exercise associated muscle cramping (EAMC)’ is a type of fatigue induced muscle spasm. To date, we don’t know what the direct cause is. The research indicates that it is likely due to a form of neuromuscular dysfunction, caused by fatigue. Think of it like a temporary power surge in your nerve, causing the muscle to contract and not allowing it to relax again.
Previous theories about dehydration and lack of sodium, potassium and calcium levels have largely been disproven by research.
What can be done about it?
The best ways to prevent cramps:
- Train up – stronger, more conditioned muscles cramp less.
- Carb load – Adequate carbohydrate intake prior to and during an event may help to reduce muscle fatigue and therefore reduce cramps.
- Drink up! (Water, of course!!!) – A dehydrated athlete may not directly lead to cramping but may make you reach muscle fatigue earlier than expected.
What if I still cramp in my event?
You can continue to compete, but a cramp will likely cause you to immediately stop on the spot. Your best options to continue activity are to:
- Stretch the cramping muscle out (ask us how if you’re unsure)
- Massage the cramping muscle to relax it out of spasm
The cramp should subside within a few minutes. Take this opportunity to rehydrate!
Any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me, we’re here to help!