It is not unusual for runners to cramp whilst running. These cramps may occur in the side, the stomach or in the muscles of the leg. Although there are lots of things which can lead to the onset of cramping, the consensus is that shallow breathing, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and exhaustion are the main causes. Too much food and drink in the stomach can affect the breathing and upset the chemical balance as well.
It is very important to stay hydrated but this ideally should occur at least 45 minutes before your run and you should not run for 1 – 2 hours after a meal.
Some simple tips to treat & avoid cramping whilst running are:
- Breathe deeply. Slow the breathing down and breathe from the lower lung area – if you place your hand on your stomach, when you breathe to the lower lung, your stomach should rise & fall.
- To prepare for a run try some dynamic stretching
- Don’t eat or drink too much just before running – simple carbohydrates like fruit are a good option as they provide energy & are easy to digest
- Don’t start off too fast – it is best to run the first 10 minutes or so gently
- If cramps strike, slow down or walk & really concentrate on your deep breathing