Cramps While Running – Side, Calf & Stomach – What Should You Do?
Nearly every person has experienced cramps while running. It can be caused by eating too close to a run, poor hydration, and even lack of fitness. Even things like incorrect running shoes can cause cramps.
However, for most people cramps are localized to certain areas. These include the stomach, side, calf muscles. While those aren’t the only areas you may feel cramps while running, we are focus on these key areas.
So continue on reading if you are interested in my you might experience cramp in the side when running, or even the stomach and calf muscles.
Cramps While running – What Should You do?
Your breathing, digestion, dehydration, and stretching can all contribute to getting cramps while running. Even insufficient carbohydrates before or during your run can cause you to experience it.
So, if you feel you are on the verge of cramping, what should you do?
First, make sure you are hydrated. Hydration is one of the biggest causes of cramps when running. Secondly, try to slow your pace down until the cramp subsides. Thirdly, if the cramp is severe, stop and stretch the muscle.
If you experience cramping regularly, there might be a more serious underlying factor than just hydration or eating too close to a run.
Running too hard, overtraining, and lack of stretching can also cause symptoms of cramping. As well as electrolyte loss and incorrect footwear might play a part too.
However, to understand what may be causing cramps when running, you need to know where the cramp is located.
Side Cramp Running – What Causes it?
If you experience cramping in the side when running, you may be running too far or too hard.
Pushing yourself past your limits ends up putting excess stress on the abdomen area. It can then cause pain and discomfort, which is often referred to as stitch or side cramps.
Another factor that can cause a side cramp, is your breathing. Often people that breathe shallow or from the chest are more susceptible to symptoms of cramping.
When you breathe shallowly, your muscles don’t receive enough oxygen. Which then causes the muscles to become more fatigued as you run. Leading to cramps around the abdominal region.
Shallow breaths can also place more stress on the ligaments and muscles of the diaphragm. This causes the nearby muscles to overwork and compensates for the lack of work done by the diaphragm.
Alternatively, a side cramp can be caused by drinking too much fluid or eating too much food before your run. For most people eating at least one hour before their run will stop any cramp or stitch-type symptoms on their run. However, if you do struggle with cramp and stitch, try to vary what you eat before a run. Alternatively, add more time between your meal and your run.
Cramp in Calf When Running – What Should You Know?
Most runners that experience cramp in their calf when running are usually dehydrated or follow a poor stretching routine. This is the number one cause of calf cramps. However, for those others that still experience it when well hydrated and follow a good stretching routine, what can cause it?
Other factors that can contribute are inadequate carbohydrate intake or the wrong equipment.
Many people that make the transition from a high heel drop to a low heel to toe drop, often experience cramp during the first runs. This is mainly to do with excess stress being placed on the calf muscle trying to stabilize the foot.
If you experience this when changing shoes, you should shorten and lower your intensity until the calf muscle adapts.
Alternatively, you can try to strengthen the calf muscle by doing calf raises. And also try to improve its flexibility by stretching regularly.
Stomach Cramp Running – What Causes it?
Just like a side cramp when running, stomach cramp is often caused by the same thing. Some of the most common symptoms that cause stomach cramp when running are:
– Running too hard
– Eating too close to a run
– Drinking too much before running
– Lack of stretching
– Poor breathing
While there are many other causes, these are the main causes of stomach cramp when running. Luckily there are some ways you can prevent this.
– Don’t run on a full stomach
– Slow down
– Practice belly breathing
– Practice side stretching
– Perform lower back and abdominal exercises
Focusing on the above can help prevent any issues in your stomach while running. However, if you still experience regular sharp stabbing pain around the abdominal and stomach area, talk to your local doctor. There might be a more serious cause of your stomach issues.
Is it Normal to Get Cramps While Running?
While is not normal, most people experience cramp when running. This is largely caused by some of the factors we have discussed in this article. However, for most people, experiencing cramps on a run is nothing to worry about and often passes relatively quickly.
However, if you experience this on most of your runs, whether it be your stomach, side, or calf muscle, you should get this checked out by your doctor. This will help confirm there are no underlying issues.
Alternatively, look at your diet and hydration strategy. This is usually the biggest cause of cramps when running.