lutter contre les crampes

Running cramps: better safe than sorry

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DEfinition

Cramp is the consequence of a muscle contraction. It is spontaneous, involuntary, prolonged, painful, affects one or several muscle groups for several seconds to several minutes, and is sometimes preceded by a feeling of imminence.

Generally, cramp affects voluntary striated muscles, essentially the muscles of the limbs, particularly the lower limbs. It occurs suddenly, before disappearing with no after-effects.

Please note that there are several types of cramp: paraphysiologic (linked to very intensive exercise), idiopathic (so-called "night" cramps) and symptomatic (caused by illness).

 

Causes

The usual causes of cramp are:

- excessive muscle fatigue due to poor preparation for the effort required (lack of training and/or warming up, lack of recovery period, and overtraining).

- Fatigue due to anomalies in the foot, knee, hip, spine, etc.

- Dehydration and a lack of mineral salts.

- A state of general fatigue.

 

Symptoms

The suddenness and intensity of the pain generally leaves little doubt as to whether you are suffering from cramp. Among the most obvious symptoms are:

- Pain in one or several muscles.

- Palpitation-like muscle contractions.

- A feeling of relief after stretching a cramping muscle.
- An end (sometimes almost immediate) to the pain when the muscle stops being used.

 

Prevention

Good hydration plays a key role in preventing cramp. It is important to drink plenty before a training session or competition (especially when you will be exercising for over an hour) and to hydrate regularly – especially in hot and humid weather – during exercise. A few mouthfuls of water every twenty minutes is generally sufficient.

You should also be careful about what you eat. If your food is too acidic, it could trigger cramps. Runners who suffer from cramp during intensive exercise are often advised to take a blood test to see if there are any deficiencies causing these cramps.

Some of the factors that can prevent cramps include:

- Good quality sleep.

- A warm-up that is adapted to the upcoming exercise.

 

Stretching regularly (at the start and end of training) helps to keep your muscles nice and elastic. However, make sure you don't overstretch your muscles after intensive exercise.

 

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