Running Cramps: How to Prevent, Relieve & Keep Moving

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. 

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:

Read Also: OPOVE M3 Pro Max Massage Gun Review

Closing Thoughts

Overall, unless you’re limping or suffering from excruciating pain you should be able to continue running after experiencing cramps.

Running Cramps: How to Prevent, Relieve & Keep Moving

23 Comments

  1. Kristin says:

    I wish I would have known these things a few years ago. I was running 3 miles every day but it got too painful!

  2. Ashley Thompson says:

    My new year’s resolution was to move more this year, so I’ve taken up running again a few times a week, but the cramps can be REAL. Thanks for the tips to make it more enjoyable.

  3. Andrew says:

    I get these allll the time. It’s why I really hate running. I also hate stretching so this will be a painful solution! I drink water while I run actually so that could be part of the problem as well. Thanks for sharing!

  4. This is something I used to struggle with a lot. It helps when I don’t eat or drink a lot before going on a run.

  5. This is always great to know. I get cramps often when I run too. I’m glad to have seen this.

  6. Monica Simpson says:

    These are great tips! I hate getting those stomach cramps when running!

  7. Tara Pittman says:

    As a runner, those cramps are awful. I will try these tips the next time I experience a cramp.

  8. brianne says:

    Getting cramps while running is such a pain. It happened to me once and I dont want to experience it again

  9. Beth Pierce says:

    These are good things to keep in mind, especially for athletes. Knowing how to relieve cramps while running is handy.

  10. I sometimes get cramps when running and I didn’t really know how to prevent them. Thanks for the product recommendations

  11. Terri Steffes says:

    I get cramps in my calves. I have found that magnesium helps me.

  12. Rose Ann Sales says:

    I haven’t experience a running cramps but thanks for the tips. I will definitely keep this in mind.

  13. Yes too get running cramps, thanks for sharing these tips, I will try to use it. that way I can reduce the cramps.

  14. monica y says:

    I have them in the past, and they are painful and annoying to have, will follow your advice, thank you for sharing

  15. Cathy Mini says:

    What an awesome tips to prevent running cramps. I will definitely save these tips!

  16. I always wondered what caused them. I used to get them a lot when I was young, and my son gets them now.

  17. Catalina says:

    I need for my husband. He will thank for these tips!

    1. Catalina says:

      I bought a massage gun for him and it helped a lot!

  18. This can be hard to deal with for me. I find that stretching and drinking more water seems to help.

  19. I sometimes get running cramps and it’s such a pain! Thanks for these tips. I will totally put these into effect.

  20. Tasheena says:

    Are used to get running cramps a lot when I was younger. Looking forward to implementing these tips.

  21. I will keep these in mind. I hate getting cramps when I jog. I try to do it daily, and some days are easier than others.

  22. I work out at least five times a week but not outside like my husband who runs every day. I do get a cramp now and then but just try and work through them. Your tips are vey helpful and I might try tone or two.

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