Cutting out Cramps and Stitches
Everyone has experienced cramps and stitch at least once in their life. For athletes, cramp and stitch can be significantly uncomfortable, and if they occur regularly can disrupt training patterns. The severity of the two complaints can vary significantly and there are things you can do to avoid them.
What is cramp?Cramp is a sudden, painful tightening pain that occurs most often in the leg muscles, especially the calves or thighs. It may last for a few seconds or up to several minutes. Cramp can be a sudden, singular event or may occur repeatedly. It occurs when a muscle contracts involuntarily in a sudden spasm, and remains tight.
How should you treat cramp?Stretching is important because it may help to reduce the muscle spasms and help the muscle to relax back into its normal state. Gently massaging the muscle can also help reduce pain. Drinking water is beneficial if you are dehydrated.
What may cause cramp?Water
Cramps often occur when an athlete is dehydrated. (But even athletes who are well hydrated get cramps.) To avoid dehydration-associated cramps, plenty of water before, during, and after you exercise. For a healthy regular intake of water, you know if you're drinking enough liquid, if you need to urinate every 2-4 hours. Remember however, that caffeinated drinks have diuretic effects and will make you urinate more often.
Maintaining a sodium balance is important, though this does vary slightly between individuals. Many of today's sports drinks designed for athletes contain enough supplementary sodium to prevent even a heard working athlete from losing excessive amounts of sodium through perspiration.
If you are doing a heavy workout and perspiring heavily, you may lose some potassium, but are unlikely to become potassium depleted, otherwise all your muscles would be affected. If you are an athlete though, eating plenty of potassium-rich fruits and vegetables will still be beneficial.