Quad Cramping

by Sharon
(NY, NY)

I am a treadmill runner. Every time I start a run, my right quad starts to cramp up enough for me to usually end my runs early as my leg feels like lead. This happens every time I start a run without fail. My left leg feels completely fine. I have running shoes fitted for my feet and they are relatively new with about 150 miles of use so far. I also stretch for a few minutes before my runs and try to hydrate properly.

I am wondering if type of cramping is normal and if I am just supposed to push through all my runs. I usually do my runs first thing in the morning. I noticed that if I cross-train on an elliptical before my runs that I do not experience this quad cramping. But I would really like to just immediately get into my run without having to expend 30 minutes on an elliptical.

Once you get a cramp or pull a muscle in your leg, it tends to cramp up more often than normal. My calf muscle this fall tightened up on me this fall, and I couldn't run effectively for over three weeks. You can read more about leg cramps running here.

My suggestion to you is to actually run about five minutes nice and easy on your treadmill, then get off the treadmill and stretch. Stretching cold muscles really doesn't do much. You have to warm them up with a light jog first. See if this helps.

Another option is to run later in the day. You'll be looser from walking around during the day which might make a difference with your quad.

Happy Trails - Coach Tief

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Jan 13, 2011
Quad Cramp
by: Mike D.

I am no expert, just some thoughts. Your post states that you make sure to hydrate. are you hydrating with plain water? I ask this because I have issues with cramping as well. One problem with hydrating with only water is that you can deplete or dilute your electrolyte stores. Try a quality sports drink (Gatorade and the like have way too much sugar) and alternate between plain water & your sports drink. Also, hydrating is an ongoing process, not just before a workout or race.

Another thought that comes to mind since it's just one leg: Do you have a leg length discrepency or favor one side that may cause the cramping? Is it an actual cramp (very painful) or is it more like a charley horse or a heavy/dead leg feeling?

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This article was written by David Tiefenthaler, the founder and main contributor for Tips4Running.com. In addition to running, he's also an author, and a full time teacher.

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