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WeightlossBoo 12-10-2010 09:57 PM

How to combat cramp?
I've recently gotten into jogging, and I'm really enjoying it. However, I get a lot of muscle cramp in my calves. I have to stop every 5 minutes to stretch, and it really knocks my enthusiasm. Is there a way I can combat this?

nottango 12-11-2010 03:28 AM

1. Make sure you're drinking enough fluid. If your run is longer than an hour, make it a sports drink, rather than plain water.
2. Take a multiple vitamin daily .
3. Make sure you're getting adequate potassium. Yogurt or milk is perfect after-workout, as it has protein and potassium in it. Otherwise, bananas work very well as well.

I,m sure others will have more suggestions!
Good luck! Let us know what works for you.

tandoorichicken 12-11-2010 03:52 AM

I was going to suggest more water and potassium as well. Also, do you have a good running shoe? IMHO the flatter the shoe the better (like Nike Frees), also try to jog from your toes instead of your heels.

mecompco 12-11-2010 01:53 PM

I'll second the water and potassium. I don't so much get cramps while exercising, but do get them at night sometimes. I eat a banana for my mid-morning snack every day and have five prunes for desert every night. That, plus plenty of water seems to work well. If I've been on my feet more than usual during the day, I'll also stretch out before bed.


nottango 12-11-2010 05:12 PM

love my Sauconys!
Good point about shoes. I purchased Saucony's through and LOVE them. The price was right ($42.89 or something) and they arrived the next day with free shipping. They're really stable and provide support and grip in the icy conditions.

RunbikeSki 12-11-2010 05:54 PM

You may want to think about sodium
I know, I know... sodium is the enemy, or so we've been told for a couple of decades, but it is also an essential mineral, and most of us need about 2 grams (2000 milligrams), more if you are a runner or other endurance athelete.

One of the reasons why folks don't mention sodium is that there is tons of it in processed food. If you eat a lot of fast food or canned food you are getting plenty of sodium. But if you are following a more clean, self-prepared diet as many of us here are, you may not be getting enough.

Like you, I was having serious calf cramps when running, or foot cramps during yoga. On a run they often start with my feet, work their way up to my calves and at the extreme end into my knees and thighs. During one race they got so bad my legs totally collapsed out from under me (its kind of a funny story - but a little too long for this post). After consulting with an MD and a nutritionist I looked carefully at what I was eating and found that I was pretty deficient in sodium (potasium too, but it was mostly the sodium that was responsible for the cramps). I don't eat much processed food, I rarely salt my food, but the most telling was that when the cramps begin, all it takes is one of the little salt packets you get with take-out food to make them go away.

Those packets are about 750 mg (0.75 g) and pretty quickly absorbed through your mouth into your blood stream.

BTW sports drinks and gels really do not have enough "electrolytes" (potassium and sodium) to be of much help - check it out for yourself, and contrary to conventional wisdom, there are more potassium rich foods that bananas (although bananas are a great food).

FitDay can help with the sodium calcs, but not the potassium - there isn't anywhere to input the numbers if you creat a lot of your own foods - so may need to do the calculations yourself.

Cramps can be really debilitating. After the race when I collapsed (which I did finish BTW) it took 2 weeks for my legs to recover, the muscles were so damaged. So prevention is definitely important. I still get cramps from time to time, but I almost always take those little salt packets along for my longer runs.

Good luck WeightlossBoo, but don't let the cramps go untreated. Sodium may not be the answer for you, but definitely figure out what the answer is. Cramps are your body telling you something is out of wack!


tandoorichicken 12-11-2010 06:32 PM

Good point Pam, I think we all need to remember that it's the dose that makes the poison. So in the end its all about sodium control, glucose control, cholesterol control etc. Because, all these are used by the body in one way or another. If we go too high in any it can be dangerous in some cases, but if we get rid of them completely we'd cease to function.

WeightlossBoo 12-13-2010 01:24 PM

Thank you very much for your suggestions!

Since Friday I've eaten a banana with my breakfast everyday. And before my run this morning I did a few minutes of gentle stretching in the changing rooms.
Had a little bit of discomfort in one calf after about 8 minutes in, but it passed quite quickly and then there was no stopping me.
I stretched again at the end, and then had a high protein lunch and some milk. Feel really great!

Can't wait to do it all again tomorrow! :D

RunbikeSki 12-13-2010 04:05 PM

You are doing great!
Hi Felicity,
I just wanted to let you know what a super job you are doing with your diet and exercise - you are an inspiration to many!

Melisinde 12-15-2010 05:04 PM

I used to have the same problem when I first got back into karate (after a ten year break/50 pound weight gain.) I'd be in class for all of 10 minutes, doing drills down the floor... and then the cramps would come! It felt like someone had come by and just whacked me in the back of the calves.

I would of course second what everyone else has said as far as the potassium and the water. For me, a few other things helped.

1.) Weight loss/healthier eating. This one sounds dumb, but as soon as I cleaned up my diet and cut out a lot of the high fat/cholesterol foods I was eating, my symptoms diminished a lot. (Does this sound familiar? Intermittent claudication - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) The reason for the cramp is because your arteries may be a bit clogged. As soon as you exercise and your circulation gets going, the blood SHOOTS down into your legs. Because the arteries are narrowed by the cholesterol, that's why you get the cramp. Maybe.

2.) This will sound crazy but also, worked for me- my karate instructor's secret. When you get the cramp, tilt your head back and pinch your philtrum (the thing between your nostrils.) Breathe normally for about a count of 10... and the pain hopefully will reside. That one worked 9 out of 10 times for me.

3.) Last: time. From my experience, it can take time to develop your "own" running stride. As someone else said, you may be running too much on one part of your foot. When I first started running, I felt like a football linebacker! My relatives are a... hehe, very hearty people. We're all built for strength- what some would call "stocky" and since I've always done burst sports (like karate) and not endurance ones, running was TOUGH for me. I read up a lot on proper running form though and also practiced my form. It gets easier, I promise ;)

Hope this helps!

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