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With Spring nearing, activities such as outdoor running can resume again.
While I don’t mind running on the treadmill, I do prefer outdoor running as it lets me clear my mind and get some fresh air.
The only downside to running is those dreaded running cramps.
Therefore, today I wanted to discuss how to prevent and relieve running cramps so you can keep moving.
How to prevent cramps while running
The main two ways to prevent cramps while running are to spend at least five minutes stretching before your run and avoid drinking a ton of liquids at least an hour before your run.
Doing those two things alone will help you eliminate 75% of the running cramps you may experience.
When I first started running outdoors, I experienced all sorts of cramps from feet cramps to shoulder cramps.
However, the two most common types of cramps are stomach/side cramps and calf cramps, so I’ll provide some tips for preventing each of those cramps below.
Tips for avoiding stomach cramps when running
In addition to laying off the liquids before you go running you can try the following things to decrease the chances of you experiencing stomach cramps when running:
- Match your breathing to your running pace
- Start off walking and progress slowly into your desired pace
- Never run on a full stomach
- Save the caffeine for after your run (you probably won’t need it at all then, though)
How to avoid calf cramps when running
Stretching is the best way to avoid calf cramps when running. However, you want to make sure that you’re doing stretches that are targeted at stretching out your calves.
Additionally, give the following things a try:
- Avoid going too far too fast (i.e. if you haven’t run in weeks don’t start off with a 5K your first day back at it)
- Check to see if you’re taking any medications that cause muscle cramps (if so ask your doctor if you have any other alternatives)
- Spend 5 minutes or so warming up for the run
How to relieve cramps while running
If you still experience cramps while running after doing the following things you don’t have to stop your run. Instead, you can relieve the cramps and continue with your run by doing the following:
- Do a few stretches to try to stretch it out
- Slow down to a light jog
- Focus on your breathing
- Adjust your running posture (i.e. make sure you’re taking short quick steps and landing on the balls of your foot)
How to keep moving
Ideally, you want to avoid getting cramps while running. However, if you do experience cramps when running you should attempt to get rid of running cramps.
Whenever I experience running cramps, I like to zone out to music and think about my reward. For example, it could be closing the circles on my watch or enjoying a sweet treat, like a smoothie.
It’s going to be more of a mental thing to push past your cramps, but it’s worth it in the end.
Products to help you prevent and relieve running cramps
Whether you’re wondering how not to get cramps while running or how to get rid of running cramps, you’ll find that these products are a great place to start:
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Overall, unless you’re limping or suffering from excruciating pain you should be able to continue running after experiencing cramps.