Leg Cramps Running - How to treat and prevent a leg cramp.

Recently, I was on an easy run. About one mile from home I instantly got leg cramps running. It felt like someone stabbed me right in the middle of my calf muscle. I had to stop running immediately. The pain was so intense and very unexpected. I wasn't running any further than normal, and I didn't feel any tightness leading up to my leg cramping.

First, How could I have prevented this? I am quite certain, I hadn't drank enough water the day of this run. There are four things you can do to make sure it doesn't happen:

Hydrate - Eat Right - Stretch - Don't push too hard too soon

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1. Once again, make sure you are hydrated. Drink enough water everyday. If you are going on a long run, make sure you bring some water along so can sip it occasionally to prevent cramping.

2. Eat right. Potassium and electrolytes are very important to your muscles. Without them you can cramp up. Eat bananas, or drink a sports drink to make sure your muscles are ready for the work.

3. Stretch out and get loose before running to fast or too far. During hard workouts, I always ran a good warm up and stretched out my legs thoroughly. A common injury for sprinters is a hamstring pull. This occurs when they sprint without being properly warmed up and stretched out.

4. Don't run too far or too hard unless you are in good enough shape. I understand that to improve at running, you have to push yourself. It is also important to know your limits. Don't try to run 15 miles if your furthest run was six. Gradually build up your endurance and speed one week at a time.

Now, what about if you get leg cramps running in a race or in the middle of a run? When I got this immediate and awful pain, I massaged my calf for a couple of minutes. The knot in my leg loosened up enough to let me hobble back home.

Self-massage and stretching are about the only thing you can do to get out the cramps. If there is any water or a sports drink you can take in, you should drink it right away. Once you are good enough to start running again, go slow!

I didn't have anything to drink, so I massaged and stretched out my calf. Unfortunately the damage was done. My calf was sore for five days! I cross trained and rode the bike in the mean time to keep my fitness level up. I was finally confident enough to run on the sixth day, and I still could feel the lingering sore calf muscle. I know it might happen again some day, but I will continue to follow preventative measures to reduce the odds.

I sincerely hope you don't get leg cramps running, but if you do be smart and treat them right away.

- Written by David Tiefenthaler

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