There's only one more climb to finish the weekly jogging route, and all it takes is a final sprint to get us there! But as soon as we pick up the pace, the calf muscle goes on strike and brings on a cramp.
Stretching, moving, massaging and showering
The following tips will help you deal with an acute muscle cramp:
- Stretching: Stretch the affected calf muscle by stepping forward and shifting the weight onto the other leg (see picture).
- Moving: Try standing and walking a few steps rather than sitting or lying down. This gets the blood circulation going again and to eases the cramp.
- Massaging: Massage the aching muscle with both hands.
- Showering: Run hot and cold water alternately over the legs to boost the circulation.
Preventing muscle cramps
Muscle cramps are triggered when not enough blood reaches the muscles or when you overexert yourself. Eating a balanced diet is generally a good way to prevent muscle cramps, and taking in sufficient carbohydrate will help to support muscle metabolism. In addition, be sure to drink enough before and during a competition. But don't overdo it. Excessive amounts of fluids (2 litres/day) won't serve your purpose. Furthermore, there is no scientific proof that taking electrolyte supplements, including magnesium, will make a difference.
Isotonic drinks provide the body with additional minerals, but such drinks only make sense for very long training sessions. You should definitely avoid ice-cold drinks because they cool down the stomach too much. The same applies to drinks containing alcohol, as they upset the electrolyte balance.
When should you see a doctor?
If muscle cramps occur frequently or last for longer periods, it's important to see a doctor to find out the cause. They can also be a warning signal for metabolic disorders such as diabetes, chronic inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis.
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