Is there anything more depressing than to be out there tearing up the road, when cramps hit? You’re blazing along and suddenly, they come.
Like invisible demons with pitchforks, they stab at you, causing you to waddle your way to finish line.
That’s an unfortunate look on anyone but runners dread cramping like no one else.
Sometimes, cramps happen due to improper hydration but it’s dangerous to believe that’s the only cause. So, here’s what causes those calf cramps you get while running, toward a more thorough understanding on the part of runners.
Exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMCs)
Here are two new terms to add to your lexicon: golgi tendon organs and muscle spindle fibers.
And here’s why you should memorize and understand these two terms:
Deep inside your muscle tissue are sensory receptors. These are GTOs or golgi tendon organs. These respond to the muscle stretching by contracting reflexively, preventing hyperextension. They’re preventing something worse than cramping occurring when they respond this way.
It means your muscles are tired. GTOs work with the muscle spindle fibers to produce this effect and when your body doesn’t heed their signals? Ouch! Cramps!
What to do about those cramps
Let’s not kid ourselves, hydration and electrolyte intake are part of running successfully and without cramps and other repercussions.
That said, here are two things you can do to reduce the chance of cramps occurring during intense runs.
While racing, its crucial that you invest some serious time in strength training. For this purpose, I suggest a targeted program specifically geared to runners. Investigate local resources to find the right trainer for this.
This is the other side of the coin. You may be running regularly and doing distance runs. But it’s important that your preparation include runs at the speed and intensity you’re planning to pour on for the big race.
Runs of 10 miles or more at the pace you intend to keep in your marathon or other running event prepares your body, letting it know what to expect. Long runs are good, and you needn’t do the whole thing at your race intensity but doing a sizable chunk at that pace is what you need to prevent or reduce the instance of cramps, especially in the calves.
Volume is the key but add intensity to tip your body off to what’s expected.
Form is a key element in your cramp prevention plan. When it breaks down close to the finish line, cramps are almost inevitable. The trainer you’re looking for to build you a runner’s strength regime can help with this part, too.
Back & Body Medical NJ
We’ve brought our award-winning, multi-disciplinarian model her to New Jersey to serve patients with chiropractic care, sports medicine, physical therapy and acupuncture services close to home.
I’m a chiropractor and an Iron Man, so I know all about cramps. Preventing them, as you can see, involves a bit of work and planning, but isn’t that better than the alternative?