Running Cramps: How to Prevent, Relieve & Keep Moving

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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

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?

Running Cramps: How to Prevent, Relieve & Keep Moving

11 Comments

  1. Rose Ann Sales says:

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

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

  3. 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

  4. Cathy Mini says:

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

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

  6. Catalina says:

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

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

  8. Jenn says:

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

  9. Tasheena says:

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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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