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Exercising and achieving your fitness goals can be a major source of satisfaction — but it can also be a source of pain and discomfort. Cramps can be especially debilitating, as well as discouraging, when they interrupt or prevent your exercising routine. Fortunately, there are ways to manage and avoid cramps while exercising and keep your fitness journey on track.
Stop Cramps from Derailing Your Fitness Journey
Cramps are sudden, sharp pains that can affect any muscle in your body. Cramps are usually caused by a combination of dehydration and fatigue, but can also be triggered by muscle strain, electrolyte imbalances, and other conditions or activities. When exercising, the pressure of muscles being repeatedly used can cause cramps that last a few seconds to several minutes.
When you experience cramps while exercising, they can be distressing and often force you to stop working out. But with determination and some preventive measures, you can minimize cramps and keep focused on your goals.
Tips to Manage Discomfort and Reach Your Goals
To avoid cramps, drink plenty of water before, during and after a workout. This will help keep your body hydrated and your muscles from becoming dehydrated. Additionally, it’s important to stretch before and after exercising, as well as take frequent breaks when necessary. Taking a break allows your muscles to relax, avoiding the strain that can lead to cramps.
Another strategy that can help you manage exercise-related cramps is to gradually increase the intensity of your workouts. Working out too hard can put strain on your muscles, making them more prone to becoming fatigued, which increases the likelihood of cramps. When starting a new workout routine, start slowly and gradually work up to more difficult exercises. This will give your body time to adapt and become stronger, while minimizing cramps.
Harnessing Pain-Free Progress in Your Workouts
If you’re already experiencing cramps, there are strategies to help you manage them. As soon as you start to feel a cramp, stop exercising and try to relax the affected muscle. You can do this by taking slow, deep breaths, gently stretching the muscle, and massaging it. Applying a cold or warm compress to the area can also help to reduce and relieve the cramps.
In some cases, cramps can be a sign of a more serious medical condition. If you experience cramps that don’t go away after a few minutes, or the pain is severe, it’s important to seek medical advice. Diagnosing the cause can help you create an effective plan to prevent cramps in the future.
Identifying Causes of Cramps and Pain
Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and thyroid conditions, can also make you more prone to cramps. If you have a medical condition, make sure to check with your doctor about ways to manage exercise-related cramps and stay on track with your fitness goals.
In some cases, your cramps and discomfort may be caused by footwear or clothing that’s too tight. Wearing the wrong type of shoes, for example, can cause your feet to swell and cause cramps, as well as blisters and other conditions. Pay attention to the type of clothing, shoes, and other gear you wear when exercising and make sure that everything fits properly.
Discovering Strategies to Keep Moving Towards Your Goals
Exercising and achieving your fitness goals requires dedication and discipline — and it can be especially difficult if you’re dealing with cramps. But with the right combination of preventive measures, self-care and medical advice, you can manage your cramps and stay on track with your fitness journey. Drink plenty of water, stretch, take frequent breaks and make sure that your shoes and clothing fit properly — and you’ll be on your way to reaching your goals.
Exercise-related cramps can be a nuisance — but with the right preventive measures and self-care, you can minimize their effect and stay on track with your fitness goals. Drink plenty of water, take frequent breaks, stretch, and make sure your clothing and shoes fit properly — and you’ll be one step closer to reaching your goals.
- Hopkins, C. et al. (2015). Exercise-related transient abdominal pain: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 49(6), pp. 375-386.
- Lewis, P. (2018). Exercise-Induced Muscle Cramps: Causes and Treatment. In Stöppler, M.C., Ed., Merck Manual Consumer Version.
- Toumi, A. et al. (2019). Post-Exercise Muscle Cramps: Causes, Interventions and Management Strategies. Frontiers in Physiology. 10, p.1186.