A long run can be invigorating and inspiring with its opportunities to strengthen your body, refresh your spirit and cross that finish line. Unfortunately, a quick muscle cramp can derail all that. By walking through these tips prior to your next run, you can minimize your risk for muscle cramps and soak in more of those glorious miles.
When you train, pay attention to strengthening your hips, abdominals, lower back and glutes. If you get tired and slouch or reduce hip extension, you may impede your glute muscle. As a result, your calves exert more force – setting you up for over-striding and leg cramps. Holding your shoulders back, chest back and spine neutral is the key.
For preventative exercises, the Livestrong team recommends endurance training or plyometrics on the days you don’t run to increase your conditioning and help prevent the onset of neuromuscular fatigue that can cause muscle cramps.
Additionally, you can improve your overall training program by better understanding and appreciating your unique physical strengths and running pace. Runner’s World magazine notes it’s better to be slightly undertrained, but feeling strong and eager, than to be overtrained. You can find a link to their marathon training recommendations at the end of this article.
Shake some salt and stay hydrated
Boosting your sodium levels and water intake could help you pick up the pace, while reducing muscle cramps. Any time you exercise for more than three hours you risk sodium depletion, which can negatively impact blood volume, as well as nerve and muscle functions. “Sodium depletion short-circuits the coordination of nerves and muscles,” advises E. Randy Eichner, MD, Runner’s World Science Advisory Board.
Depending on your personal sodium levels, you might salt your food more a couple of days prior to your next long distance race. Also, consider hydrating with electrolyte beverages and snacking on salty pretzels every 30 minutes during the race.
Persistent muscle cramps
When it comes down to it though, each run is different — from the weather to terrain and your energy levels. Even when you put your best foot forward, cramps can persist. Be sure to rest and stretch your muscles during a cramp. Also, when rounding out your race toolkit, an alternative pain relief gel like NeoRelief for Muscle Cramping and Restlessness can be applied before, during and after a long distance run for prompt soothing relief powered by active botanicals and minerals.
Keeping in mind most muscle cramps are the result of fatigue and electrolyte imbalances, you now have a few tips to optimize your training and make the most of your run time.
“What’s the best way to train for a marathon?” by Runner’s World