Los Angeles, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/26/2013 -- Whether on a daily run, or during a race, the best athletes may experience cramps in the stomach, legs, or calves. These cramps are the painful opposite of the endorphin high many seek, and the pain can slow the runner, preventing them from reaching their personal best.
A study of approximately 800 runners revealed 27 percent experienced exercise related abdominal pain described as a “stitch” or “side ache” during their workouts. While no definitive cause can be cited for runner’s cramps, there are preventative steps runners can take, and ways of dealing the ache should it strike.
Olympian Jeff Galloway advocates deep breathing practices during all physical activity. Breathing into lower lungs will slow inhalation and exhalation down, preventing constriction of the muscles. He also mentions starting off at a slower pace on a run rather than bolting out of the gates.
“It’s always better during the first 10 minutes to be more gentle,” Galloway noted.
Monitoring diet before the run is also important as sometimes cramps are caused by the digestive process. A pre-race meal should be eaten 2-3 hours before hand, and runners should be considerate of what they are eating. Simple carbs like fruits provide the short bursts of energy required to start while complex carbs provide long-term energy needed for the duration of the run. Runners should also hydrate properly with 16-20 ounces of water an hour before hand and 2-4 ounces every fifteen minutes during the run.
Should a cramp strike despite these preventative steps, Galloway recommends slowing the pace to a walk for 2-4 minutes and breathing deeply. Runners should also ensure they are getting plenty of rest and hydration between long races or training sessions to allow the body time to recover. Once the cramping subsides, or the runner has prevented the pain all together, the pace can resume, and they will be crossing the finish line with a new personal best.
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