In the past week, I have had several people talk to me about cramping in their calves, especially when running during Crossfit workouts or Spartan races and sometimes afterward.
So let’s talk about some common causes of cramping in the calves.
The top three contributors that I tend to find with these athletes are hydration, electrolytes, and mobility deficits.
Hydration is important for all functions in our body, including what happens in the muscles. When the body is dehydrated, muscle cramps can develop. Making sure you are well hydrated before your training or race is important. Continuing to hydrate at regular intervals during your training or event is critical as well.
Check out Hydrating in the Summer Monthsfor more information on proper hydration.
Without getting too scientific on you, electrolytes are necessary for muscle contraction and relaxation to happen. Without electrolytes, the muscles cannot function properly. This can result in muscle cramping either during activity or after.
Electrolytes and hydration can go hand in hand. As we sweat, we sweat out electrolytes. If you only replenish water and not electrolytes, it can cause significant electrolyte imbalances which can contribute to other issues.
When it comes to electrolyte replacements, there are a number of options. An easy, natural option is coconut water. I also love SaltStick Fast Chewsfor my races. You can also find a number of powders to put into your water if you are carrying water with you.
Something that is often forgotten when it comes to muscle cramps, especially when running hills, is the possibility that it is coming from mobility deficits. When running hills, we require more mobility in our hips and ankles than when running on level ground. Without the proper mobility, the muscles tend to work harder to move the body. Over time, the muscles fatigue and cramping can develop.
These are my favorites to address ankle mobility on a regular basis.
And these are great ones to do as warm ups before running.
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