By Muscle Media
Muscle cramps are temporary contractions of the muscles that usually appear during, or shortly after, physical effort. The sensation is a strong, involuntary tightening of the muscle group that you can’t seem to control. There are many things that cause cramps. But, they happen most often because of insufficient warm-up before a training session.
A proper warm-up has two stages: the general cardio stage, for increasing the body temperature by jogging, cycling, or jumping rope, and the specific stage, addressing the joints and muscles that will be involved in training. If not enough time is given, to either of these stages, cramps can become an unpleasant result.
As important as the warm-up before training, is the cool-down stage after the training. The cool-down also has two stages: the dynamic aerobic stage, and the static stretching stage. It’s meant to help calm the body by eliminating muscular tension, and help remove the catabolic by-products produced from training. Lack of an effective cool-down can slow the process of recovery, often producing cramps after training.
Cramps may also appear because of an electrolyte imbalance. This may be the result of a massive loss of electrolytes through perspiration. Recovering your electrolyte balance is a priority. It can be accomplished through balanced nutrition, rich in vegetables and fruit and supplemented with minerals and vitamins. When muscle cramps appear during training, the first thing to do is stop the activity that produced the cramps. Massaging the affected zone is a good idea. This will promote blood circulation in the muscles and will help remove the catabolic by-products produced from training.
It’s also the proper time for light stretching. This will not only benefit the affected zone, but also the antagonist muscles. Stretching is meant to put realign the muscular fibers. This will contribute to the relaxation of the muscles, and make the affected muscle group more elastic. Another cool-down element could be a warm shower. This will contribute to bringing the fatigued muscles back to normal through peripheral vascular dilatation.
Ignoring the cramps can result more problems, from muscle tightening to muscular rupture. Besides the physical effects of the cramps, they can also affect you psychologically. You will be less likely to work at intense training anymore. Also, you may be frightened of these painful contractions. You may even suspect any common muscle pain during or post-training to be a symptom of cramps. Experience will provide the best prevention for these situations. With experience, you will be able to understand the difference between real situations and any false alarms. This will increase the effectiveness of the training.