Muscle Cramps by
During many weekend
runs, I see some runners have to walk back after experiencing
muscles cramps. Some were seen stretching their muscles
on the road side. A few were seen rubbing and massaging
the leg with medicated oil and ointment to relieve their
muscle cramps. I also have muscle cramps many times
during and after my long run.
Muscle cramps are involuntary muscle contractions which
can be extremely painful when they occur during a run
or match. When you have a muscle cramp in your hamstring,
calf or quadriceps you may not be able to continue to
run or even walk. You may have to lay down on the ground
in agony. Be ware of minor muscle tear which can present
as if you have a cramp.
So why does this happen during the run or sports? Well it
may be due to many factors; your body could be lacking in
electrolyte like Sodium, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, or
some other mineral in your muscles. Most people put it down
to salt which is not a common cause in Malaysia. Most of us
eat plenty of salt in out diet in Malaysia.
Cramps in a runner are usually due to dehydration and heat
illness. Our body can loses up to 2 liters of water per hour
in our hot weather. When you run or exercise your body generates
heat from your muscle activities. When the body became too
hot, it can presents as heat induced muscle cramps.
Muscles fatigue or muscle running low in glycogen store which
is the energy source, cramps can also occur. You could also
suffer from cramps because your socks are too tight. This
may decreases blood flow to your calves, which in turn might
cause cramps in your calf muscles. Regular training in sports
or run can lead to tight muscles which can predispose the
muscles to cramps during your run. The muscles that are cramped
most often in runner and many sports are the quadriceps, hamstrings
and calves. Less common sites are back and toes. If you experience
muscles cramps during the run, try the following tips.
How to avoid muscle cramps
- Maintain a well balanced diet.
- Take a multi-vitamin with mineral everyday if you train
and run regularly.
- Drink 1 bottle 500ml water 30 to 60 minutes prior to
- Drink half bottle 500ml water or one can isotonic drinks
10 minutes prior to your run.
- Drink at every drinking station during the run. Stop
and drink 2 cups of water or 1 can isotonic drinks. Most
isotonic and sports drink have carbohydrate and electrolyte
which helps to replace electrolyte loss in sweat.
- Stretch before and after each run. Tight muscle should
be stretched up to 1minute.
- Sports massage helps to relief tight and sore muscles.
- Avoid running with empty stomach. Try to eat your breakfast
before the run.
- Powerbar or Powergel contain carbohydrate and electrolyte
for your long distant run.
- Run in the cooler part of the day.
How to treat muscle cramps
- Stretch the muscle that is cramping.
- Cold spray or ices sponge for the muscles.
- Gentle massage the cramped muscle.
- Drink 2 cups of cold water or isotonic drinks.
- Once your cramps have subsided you may be able to keep
running. Stop and stretch the muscle hen you feel the cramps
is coming or the muscle is tight again.
- Loosen your socks during the run. If your socks are tight,
Questions to Dr William Chan can be directed to him. His
contact number is 03-563 55113 or 012-252 1898. His e-mail
See also the Sports
and Backcare Specialist page.