Cramps are unpleasant, often painful sensations caused by muscle contraction or over shortening. Common causes of skeletal muscle cramps is-
- Muscle fatigue
- Cold Temperatures
- Not enough Warm up before exercising or playing a sport
- Electrolyte imbalance
Ways to relax your Muscles & avoid Cramping:
- Hydrate Yourself- Dehydration is one of the biggest culprits of muscle cramps. When you feel your muscles tensing into a cramp, it could be a sign that your body is dehydrated. Immediately drink water before the pain becomes too bad.
- Massage It- The minute you get a cramp, gently massage the muscle that is cramping. Rub the knots that have formed in the muscle to ease the sharp pain. Make sure you rub in the natural direction of the muscle.
- Warm Bath- Warmth eases tension in the muscles. If you’ve been struck by a cramp, hop in for a long, warm shower. It will relieve pain, relax the cramped muscle & make you comfortable. And you will feel much fresher afterwards too!!
- Stretch- Stretching helps ease muscle cramps too. For example, if you have a calf cramp, stretch your leg out with toes pointing upwards & towards your head. Hold for 30sec. It also works for cramps in your thighs.
- Magnesium Oil- Magnesium oil is hard to find, but its a really good remedy for muscle cramps. It is a natural muscle relaxant. All you have to do is massage the oil into the cramp in order for it to be relieved within minutes.
- Go Ayurvedic- There are several Ayurvedic solutions for easing cramps, including mustard seeds. Saturate a tub of hot water with a homemade tea bag of brown/black mustard seeds. When you have a cramp, immerse your feet in the tub for around 20min & your muscle cramp should be relieved.
- Ice Pack- If you have a really bad cramp, rubbing an ice pack over it can help the pain. Rub the ice pack over your muscle till your skin becomes reddish. The redness is an indication that blood is flowing back into the muscle & the cramp should ease.
- Cover Up- The minute you feel a cramp coming on pr when your struck by one, cover yourself with a blanket/switch off the air conditioner if your indoors. The warmth will get rid of the muscle tension & cramp.
- Electrolyte Supplements- Make sure you take supplements that you need daily. Also, while suffering from a cramp, something salt heavy such as an electoral can help ease the pain.
- Apple Cider Vinegar- Drinking a mixture of apple cider vinegar everyday will help keep muscle cramps away as it is a source rich in potassium. However, if you suddenly get a cramp, drink some with a teaspoon of honey in some warm water will give your cramps instant relief.
If you have another method you use to relieve your muscle cramps, we’d love to know. Comment here to let us know!
Still hell-bent on racking up the miles? Remember there’s a fine line between pushing through and pushing your luck — and only you (and your doctor) will know what’s best when the running gets rough.
By taking a few precautions and planning, you can prevent many common running injuries. Here are some tips for preventing injuries.
To minimize the aches and pains, consider these general tips to help stay on the safe side:
- Listen to your body: Don’t ignore pain. A little soreness is OK. But if you notice consistent pain in a muscle or joint that doesn’t get better with rest, see your health care provider.
- Create a running plan: Before beginning a running routine, talk to a trainer. A trainer can help you create a running plan that is in line with your current fitness/abilities and long-term goals.
- Stick to the 10 percent rule: Don’t increase mileage by more than 10 percent each week. Upping those miles unexpectedly is a major reason overuse injuries happen!
- Warm up & cool down: Heading for an intense run? Remember to warm up and cool down to ease the body in and out of a workout. This will help keep injuries at bay.
- Stretch: Many injuries occur as a result of inadequate stretching. Before and after you run, stretch your muscles thoroughly — especially your calf, hamstrings, groin, and quadriceps. Also, warm up for five minutes — by walking, for example — before you start stretching. Stretching cold muscles may cause injuries.
- Fix your form: Smooth and efficient is the key. Not only will poor form hinder performance, it could lead to unnecessary pain. So make sure to use correct running technique to prevent injuries, especially shin splints and back aches. Imbalances in the body can also lead to problems down the road, and it never hurts to visit a skilled physical therapist who can help identify and address any biomechanical issues.
- Strength train: Add weight training and ab exercises to your routine. This strengthens muscles and develops core strength. Lifting can increase structural fitness — which helps bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles endure all that pounding. Pay special attention to strengthening hips, since weak hips are linked to higher rates of injury.
- Cross train: Mix up your fitness routine. Don’t only run. Try swimming, biking, tennis, or some other activity. This helps prevent overuse injuries that more commonly occur when you do the same type of exercise over and over again.
- Dress appropriately: Wear lightweight, breathable clothing that wicks moisture away from your skin. Dress in layers. Also wear a hat to protect against the sun and cold.
- Be sneaker smart: Wear proper-fitting socks and shoes with good support. If the soles of your running shoes have worn thin or are angled, it’s time to get a new pair. If you have foot problems, such as flat feet or high arches, consider using orthotic shoe inserts. Keep track of how many miles those shoes have logged, and replace them every 600 miles — if not sooner! It’s also worth swinging by a specialty running shoe store, where they can help you figure out which shoe is the perfect fit.
- Run wisely: Run on a flat, smooth surface and avoid steep hills until your body gets used to the activity. Avoid running on uneven surfaces that put unnecessary stress on ligaments. And while off-roading is a fun change of pace, rough terrain may make it easier to twist an ankle — so be extra careful on the trails.
- Know your limit: Make sure to take at least one day off per week, and mix up those hill-repeats with some easier recovery runs. Don’t forget to pencil in regular rest days, too. You (and your body) deserve it!
- Be safe: Run during the day, in well-lit areas, or use a light so that you can be seen. Keep a cell phone and identification on you. If running with headphones, set the volume low enough so that you can hear cars and other noises. Run with a partner when you can.
- Weather matters: Monitor the weather conditions before you go for a run. Don’t run outside if it is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, below freezing, or the humidity is high.
- Stay hydrated: Make sure you drink an extra 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of water on the days you run. If you are running for more than an hour, drink a sports drink to replenish electrolytes lost in sweat.
Treatment of Common Running Injuries
Most running injuries can be relieved by following these treatment strategies. If pain and discomfort continues, see your health care provider. You may need more advanced treatment to resolve your running injury.
Rest: Take it easy. If you keep running, your injury may get worse. Choose alternative ways to exercise while you heal, such as swimming or cycling.
Ice and cold therapy: Apply ice packs to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.
Compression: Wrap the affected area with tape and use splints and supports to control swelling and stabilize the affected area.
Elevate: If you sprain your ankle or hurt your foot, elevate it to reduce swelling.
Stretch: To reduce pain and tension of the affected area, gently stretch and massage the injured area.
Pain relievers: Take pain relievers.
Activity levels: Decrease the amount of activity & return slowly to previous activity levels. Don’t try to push through pain. If you notice discomfort, take a break from running. If the pain continues, seek care from your health care provider.
Disclaimer: Remember that none of this information should substitute professional medical advice. Definitely check with a doctor or physical therapist first once those aches and pains arise!
Running is a great way to stay in shape. But it can take a toll on your muscles and joints. To avoid running injuries, it’s important to take precautions before you set out.
Most running injuries happen when you push yourself too hard. Adding distance or speed to your running routine, running up hills, and interval training are just some of the reasons running injuries occur. Body mechanics — the way your body is designed — also play a role. The hips, knees, legs, and feet are the most vulnerable to injury.
Type of Injury: Overuse injury
Causes: Several. But it’s commonly due to the kneecap being out of alignment.
What to Look Out For: Vigorous activity leads to pain around the kneecap, particularly when:
- going up or down stairs
- sitting with the knee bent for a long time
Causes: This is a small crack in a bone that causes pain and discomfort. It typically affects runners in the shin and feet. Often due to going too hard before your body gets used to a new activity.
What to Look Out For: Pain gets worse with activity and improves with rest. Rest is important, as continued stress on the bone can lead to more serious injury.
Causes: Commonly occur after a change in activity, such as running longer distances or increasing the number of days you run too quickly.
What to Look Out For: A pain that occurs in the front or inside of the lower leg along the shin bone (tibia). People with flat feet are more likely to develop shin splints.
Causes: This is inflammation of the Achilles tendon.
What to Look Out For: Achilles tendinitis causes pain and stiffness in the area of the tendon, especially in the morning and with activity. It is usually caused by repetitive stress to the tendon, often due to increasing running distance too quickly. Tight calf muscles may also play a part.
Causes: A small tear in your muscle, also called a muscle strain, often caused by overstretching of a muscle.
What to Look Out For: If you suffer a pulled muscle, you may feel a popping sensation when the muscle tears.
Muscle pull commonly affects these muscles:
Causes: This is the stretching or tearing of ligaments surrounding the ankle. It often occurs when the foot twists or rolls inward.
What to Look Out For: Pain in & around the ankle.
An inflammation of the plantar fascia. That’s the thick band of tissue in the bottom of the foot that extends from the heel to the toes. People with tight calf muscles and a high arch are more prone to plantar fasciitis. Although it may be linked to an increase in activity, plantar fasciitis may occur without any identifiable reason.
What to Look Out For: Pain in the arches in weight bearing activities.
Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS)
The iliotibial band is a ligament that runs along the outside of the thigh, from the top of the hip to the outside of the knee.
Causes: ITBS occurs when this ligament thickens and rubs the knee bone, causing inflammation. Long-distance runners are more likely to develop ITBS.
What to Look Out For: This syndrome causes pain on the outside of the knee.
Causes: These are fluid-filled sacks on the surface of the skin. They are caused by friction between your shoes/socks and skin.
What You Can Do: To help prevent blisters:
- start using new shoes gradually
- wear socks with a double layer
- apply petroleum jelly on areas prone to blisters
- heat exhaustion
These can be prevented by dressing appropriately, staying hydrated, and using sunscreen.
Visit Us This Tuesday to Know More on Injury Prevention & Treatment!
NOTE: This post explains Biomechanics of Running pictorially.
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