Cramping Your Style: How To Prevent Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps happen to all athletes at one point in time or another. In fact, muscle cramps happen to most people regardless of athletic training. Muscles cramps are the involuntary tightening of muscles which you usually can control, and the most common problem areas are the legs and abdomen. They can put a real kink in your workout, so practice healthy habits to prevent your muscles from cramping as you train.

No one knows exactly what causes your muscles to cramp, but the first thing you can do to prevent it from happening during your workout is warm up your muscles at the beginning of your training session. Use the mat area of your gym to stretch out your muscles and do some light lifting to prepare your muscles for the day's activity. This is a good practice to prevent other injuries as well. When your muscles are warmed up, they will expand and contract better during training, preventing you from cramps.

Remember to "warm up" on a larger scale as well-if you are unconditioned, start off slow and work your way up to harder and more intense physical activity. Athletes just returning to their sport after the off-season or an injury are more prone to muscle cramps, as are beginners. Building intensity will help you build muscle mass more quickly as well, so don't overdo it from the start, and be sure not to overtrain-take enough time to rest between workouts.

Finally, keep your muscles, and the rest of your body hydrated. Drink lots of water before, during, and after your weight training or cardiovascular workout. Your body needs water before you feel thirsty, so drink at regular intervals, and if you are out in the sun or doing something that is making you sweat, avoid water poisoning. Drink sports juices to help you replenish all the nutrients your body is losing. Loss of these nutrients may cause your muscles to spasm and cramp.

If you do get a muscle cramp, don't worry. It is normal and will probably go away in a few minutes, although you may be sore for a lot longer. Stop what you are doing and gently stretch and massage the muscle until it is no longer cramped. Applying heat will also help relax the muscle, and if you are sore, cold compresses will help your muscles heal. If your cramps become routine or do not release for long periods of time, see your doctor to make sure everything about your body is in good condition.

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