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It’s getting warmer out as spring approaches, which means now outdoor running can resume.
I personally love running outside as opposed to the treadmill as it lets me clear my mind and get some fresh air. However, with outdoor running come those dreaded running cramps.
Therefore, today, I wanted to talk about how to prevent cramps when running, how to relieve cramps while running, and how to avoid ruining your run.
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How to prevent running cramps
The main two ways to prevent cramps when running is 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 cramps you may experience while running.
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 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 desire pace
- Never run on a full stomach
- Save the caffeine for after your run (you probably won’t need it at all then, though)
Tips for avoiding 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 to stretching out your calves. Additionally, give the following things a try:
- Avoid going too far to 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 run or 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 pushing past your cramps
Pushing past your cramps is going to be more of a mental thing.
Whenever I experience a running cramp, I like to zone out to some music and think about what I’ll get once I reach my expected mileage for the run.
For example, I may treat myself to a slushie afterward or if I’m running in the neighborhood I’ll look forward to doing some stretching with my stability ball or laying down on the acupuncture mat for a few.
Others, in some of the fitness groups I’m in, highly recommend treating yourself to a foam rolling session after running, however, I haven’t personally tried out foam rollers yet.
Overall, unless you’re limping or suffering from excruciating pain you should be able to continue running after experiencing cramps.
What do you do to prevent, relieve, and keep moving when you have cramps while running?