Cramp is something that has affected us all at some point throughout our careers, whether it's during the dying stages of a match or half way through the night being woken up by severe cramping pain in overworked muscles. The good news is, that by knowing some of the most common causes of cramp we can prepare our bodies to avoid it.
Common causes of cramp:
- Low salt levels in the blood due to sweating
- Abnormal potassium, magnesium or calcium levels due to sweating
- Heat or cold stress
What can you do to avoid cramp?
- Be fit and well-conditioned
- Adequate intake of carbohydrates prior to exercise
- Maintain hydration and top up carbohydrate stores throughout exercise (Lucozade sport, energy gels)
- Dynamic stretching prior to, static stretching post exercise
- Allow adequate recovery time post exercise and refuel your body with a well-balanced meal ideally within 30 minutes of exercise
- Increase your resilience to fatigue by building stronger, fitter muscles (guides available here)
What can you do to treat cramp?
- Static stretching
- Massage to help flush out toxins in the muscles
- Ice to reduce the flow of toxins to the muscles or heat to flush the toxins in and out of the muscles (personal preference, studies show that ice is more effective but only when used for at least 20 minutes)