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Frequently Asked Questions:
Muscle Cramps

What are the major causes of muscle cramps and how can they be avoided and/or treated?

Muscle cramps are oftentimes the result of dehydration. Cramps can also be caused by the loss of salt through sweating.  During the process of acclimating to hot and humid temperatures, salt can oftentimes be noticed on your skin surface. Prevention is the key as cramping can be avoided by making sure that you are properly hydrated before, during, and after your workouts. For runs lasting under an hour, water is the drink of choice. If you are planning to run longer, be sure to also consume sports drinks (e.g., Gatorade, PowerAde, etc.) in addition to water. Regardless of the temperature, you should be drinking fluids at a minimum, every 25 to 30 minutes to stay well hydrated. Don't wait until your thirst mechanism sends a signal indicating that you are thirsty. It is too late at that point to "catch up" with your hydration needs. Waiting until you realize that you are thirsty places you at risk for experiencing muscle cramps or worse, heat illness.

In addition to staying well hydrated, muscle cramps can also be treated by gently stretching the affected area. It is a wise investment of time to stop during the training run race to take a minute or two and stretch so that the cramp does not become more troublesome.

Obtaining a sports massage from a certified therapist is an effective way to treat muscle soreness that often develops as a result of a cramp. Receiving massage therapy on a regular basis is a great way to keep your muscles in top shape, greatly minimizing the chances of getting a cramp (assuming that you stay well-hydrated).

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