Cramping Our Style: How To Prevent & Treat Exercise Cramps

By Chrissy Fink

Does this sound familiar? You’re training for a big race or hitting the gym hard and you’re feeling great. You’re ready. It’s on. Bam, you’re off like lighting. And then, just as quickly as your hope to run, you’re plagued with a stitch in your side and it just won’t quit (and, frankly, neither will we!). So, what’s a girl to do?

Craig Ramsay, from Bravo’s Thintervention with Jackie Warner, has had his fair share of experience with cramping up. Not only is he a top personal trainer, but also Craig is a trained contortionist (which, not surprisingly, is apparently chock-full of cramp-inducing poses). And, thankfully, he’s sharing his lessons learned with all of us at The Beauty Bean.

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Get Calcium & Potassium. Low calcium and potassium levels can contribute to cramping. Aim to get about 1200 milligrams of calcium per day and about 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day (through your diet or a supplement). If you’re taking a calcium supplement, take 500mg twice a day as your body can only absorb 500mg of calcium at a time – although the best way to get these is via whole foods. Looking for potassium-rich options? Try adding some strawberries to your morning oatmeal or making a baked potato (a med baked potato has more potassium than a banana, without added sugar!).

Warm Up. When you’re anticipating an intense workout, make sure not to jump in too quickly. An inadequate warm up can lead to cramps, so warm up well and increase your intensity gradually. Still suffering with leg cramps? Try wearing leg warmers! They’ll keep the legs warm, which helps prevent cramps!

High Heels. Women who wear high heels tend to get leg cramps more often. So, lay off the sky high stilettos as needed. Can’t resist those killer heels? Spend more time warming up to help prevent leg cramps during your workout.

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Hydrate. Hydration actually starts 3 days prior your workout, so be sure to stay consistently well hydrated. Have a big race? Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption too.

Relax. If you do get a cramp, release your jaw to allow oxygen in. Breath and stretch. If the cramp persists, apply some pressure and massage in upward motions (use a warm towel, if available).

Power Through. Mild cramps will often fade on their own, so don’t quit your workout (especially if you’re new to exercise, these can be common). Focus on your goal, stay with it and it will likely pass on its own. Excessive cramps, however, should be checked out by a physician.
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