We have all experienced those nasty stitches in our side or sudden calf cramps while working out. Some of us have even been startled awake in the night by a sudden ‘Charlie horse’ in our leg. Here are some helpful tips to thwart would be ‘sniper’ spasms and what you can do to avoid them.
• Drinks lots of water. The average person should be drinking 50% of their body weight in ounces of water, daily. If you are active, you should drink 60% of your body weight in ounces of water, daily.
• Fill up on electrolytes. Check your diet. Low levels of sodium and potassium could be the reason for that side stitch.
• Take a good Multi-Vitamin. Studies suggest magnesium, zinc, and vitamins B, D, and E can limit the likelihood of getting a muscle cramp (or at least ease the pain).
• Jump around. When small nerves in our muscles get fatigued, cramping can occur. Luckily, jumping drills (a.k.a. plyometrics) keep these nerves from tiring. Do them a few times a week after working out to help prevent spasms.
• Warm up and cool down. Make the time. This is as important as the workout itself. Failure to observe this will result in poor performance or injury over a prolonged period of neglect.
• Stretch the spot. Once the spasms start, stop, drop, and stretch. It’s better to stop for 10 minutes and address the cramp than it is to ‘run through it.’
• Take a chill pill. Stop! If the cramp lasts too long, you could cause long term tissue damage. Ask if you would rather miss out on a today’s run or running for the next 6 weeks (the histological time for proper collagen repair)
• Supplement your diet.
If you are eating too much of these;
Foods that inflame
• refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
• French fries and other fried foods
• soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
• red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
• margarine, shortening, and lard
You should eat more of these:
Foods that combat inflammation
• olive oil
• green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards
• nuts like almonds and walnuts
• fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
• fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
It may take some adapting in your diet, routine and even overall time management, but in the end, preventing cramps and staying ahead of potential pitfalls is your best defense for injury reduction and improved performance.