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How to Prevent Leg Cramps During Running

Leg cramps can bring your workout to a sudden, painful stop. Fortunately, you can avoid experiencing leg cramps while running by taking precautions before your workout begins. Leg cramps are normally the result of fatigue, dehydration or electrolyte imbalances, according to Running Times magazine. By controlling these three factors, it is possible to reduce or eliminate running cramps.

Step 1

Drink water and sports drinks before, during and after your workout to keep your body hydrated and to reduce your risk of leg cramps. The amount of fluid that's needed to stay hydrated varies depending on the individual; however, FamilyDoctor.org suggests drinking at least 17 ounces of water about 2 hours before exercising; 8 ounces of water 20 minutes before exercising; 7 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise, and 8 ounces of water about half an hour after exercising.

Step 2

Stretch your leg muscles before and after exercise. Stretching for as little as five minutes before and after your workouts can reduce the number of leg cramps you experience, states the University of Montana Curry Health Center.

Step 3

Build core strength, so your abdomen and lower back can help stabilize your body as you run. Core strength can combat fatigue, which can lead to cramps in your lower body. Running Times magazine recommends strengthening the core muscles to prevent your form from deteriorating as fatigue sets in.

Step 4

Increase running intensity and duration gradually. The generally-accepted rule for increasing intensity or distance is 10 percent a week. Ramping up the intensity or distance too dramatically can increase the risk of various injuries, such as stress fractures and shin splints, in addition to leaving your body fatigued and susceptible to cramps.

Step 5

Build in rest periods. Exercise, including running, is great for the body, but it is important to give your body time to recover from grueling workouts. Avoid running hard two days in a row, include several easy runs each week and plan to take at least one day off each week.

Items you will need

  • Water
  • Sports drinks

Warnings

  • If preventative measures aren't effective, consult your health care provider to make sure nothing serious is causing your cramps.
  • Severe leg cramps, coupled with pain, sometimes mean that your body is releasing myoglobin, a protein, into the bloodstream. This occurs when the body has used its available oxygen and needs the oxygen attached to the myoglobin. The kidneys must work hard to filter the proteins from the bloodstream. These proteins can damage the kidneys and lead to kidney failure, explains MedlinePlus. A sign that your body is releasing myoglobin is dark-colored urine.

Photo Credits:

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.