Most runners have experienced this, your run is going smoothly, you are feeling great. You are moving at a fantastic pace and all seems well. This was me yesterday, before I stepped in a pothole and hurt my low back, but that is besides the point. I had a bad cramp on my left side. I was taking deep breaths, slowing my pace but nothing seemed to get rid of this side stitch. I ended up stopping for a minute, did a great side stretch, moved my arms around, took a drink of some water, did some high knees and butt kicks and took off. My side stitch was gone!!
So how can you prevent stomach cramps when running? And what about muscle cramps?
Stomach cramping is typically caused by too much nutrition too quickly or dehydration. If you think you ate too much, had to much sport gels or sports drinks, take it slow.
Muscle cramping can be caused by a few factors such as poor training, ill fitted shoes, inadequate stretching, dehydration and a lack of nutrition.
Dehydration is thought to be the most common cause.
Dehydration is caused by a lack of electrolytes. Electrolytes are what help muscles contract, relax and retain more fluid to stay hydrated.
If you are a heavy sweater or a cramper, work on intaking your fluids that contain electrolytes DURING your run.
A regular sports drink, low sugar sports drink, or simply an electrolyte supplement combined with water are some options to try out on your runs.
If you are on a low carbohydrate diet, you may want to choose the sports drink. This provides muscles with needed fuel that assists in cramping prevention.
You can also try bananas and pickle juice for muscle cramping! During my first clinical rotation at a high school, on the sideline for one of the football players was pickle juice. This kid would cramp every game like clock work. The only thing that helped was the pickle juice!