As I’ve mentioned in a recent post, I’ve been having some issues with my feet cramping after Crossfit. When I was younger, my feet (or calves) would cramp in the middle of the night and cause me to be in bed writhing in pain until it passed. But recently, it only seemed to happen when I was using my Reebok Crossfit Nano Speeds, which I know were too small. So this week, I’ve been using my running shoes at the gym until I scrape up the money for some Nano 3.0s.
But tonight, after an especially taxing WOD, my left foot cramped and left me paralyzed on the gym floor. I tried to flex it with my hand, and walk it out, but every time I could feel it cramping up again. It’s embarrassing, really, not to mention painful!
So I thought I would do some research, and share my findings with you:
Why do muscles cramp, and is it normal?
A muscle cramp is an “involuntary and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax.” Common causes of muscle cramps include:
- overuse of a muscle
- depletion of salt and minerals (electrolytes)
- muscle strain/injury
- holding a position for a prolonged period of time.
Some people are predisposed to muscle cramps (this must include me) and get them regularly with any physical exertion. Muscle cramps are very common among endurance athletes who perform strenuous physical activity.
How can I soothe and end a muscle cramp once it starts?
Try to stretch the muscle away from the cramping position and hold it there until the cramp goes away. Massaging the muscle will often help it to relax, as will applying warmth from a heating pad or hot/warm soak. If the muscle cramp is associated with dehydration, as usually is the case with physical activity, fluid and electrolyte replacement is essential.
How can I prevent muscle cramps?
Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of liquids every day and during physical activity, replenish fluids at regular intervals and continue hydration after you’re finished. Also, stretch your muscles before and after you use any muscle for an extended period. Also, I’ve heard that eating a banana (potassium) can help as well – or in cycling we use pickle juice a lot.
I guess my gameplan is to drink TONS of water, make sure I take my magnesium and potassium supplements every day, and lots of stretching! Stretching is my biggest area of guilt :( I do some basic stretching right before the workout, but hardly anything after. Room for improvement!