So, you’re motivated and excited to get started on your fitness regime. You wake up super early, don your new workout gear and fabulous running shoes and hit the pavement. You are not even halfway down the block when your leg starts cramping. The pain gets you discouraged and upset.
There are many reasons for leg cramps and also some things that you can do to prevent them. The number one reason for leg cramps is dehydration. Muscles need water in order to perform optimally. Another reason is overuse. This is primarily for the person who does not give her body optimal time to heal between workouts. Another reason for cramping is fatigue and again this can be caused by overuse or lack of rest.
You also may want to check with your doctor to see if you are potassium deficient and if that is contributing to your muscle spasms. If you also experience leg cramping at night, you should definitely check with your physician. According to the JAMA (Journal for the American Medical Association), nocturnal leg muscle cramping is to be sharply differentiated from leg cramps that occur from exercise such as walking or running. These can indicate an underlying pathologic process, such as the claudication of peripheral vascular insufficiency or the "pseudoclaudication" of radiculopathy, especially secondary to lumbar spinal stenosis.”
There are, however, a couple of things you can do to prevent leg cramping during exercise. One is to warm-up before hitting your workout with full intensity. This will help make the muscle more pliable when you are ready to go into a higher level. Make sure you also stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. I cannot express enough the importance of stretching after your warm-up and at the end of your workout. Below are some stretches that you can do for your legs:
Cross left foot over right knee. Clasp hands behind right thigh and gently pull the leg in towards you, keeping upper body relaxed. Switch legs.
Lie on floor with knees bent. Straighten one leg and slowly pull it towards you, clasping the thigh, calf or ankle. Keep knee slightly bent. Switch legs.
Knees to Chest