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 Avoiding cramps is a high priority for any runner. Cramps don’t just interrupt your exercise, they can also lead to muscle injury. Following steps listed below will help you avoid those troublesome cramps and stay on the track:

1]         Hydrate properly before, during and after the run. One of the reasons for cramping is loss of fluids in the muscles. Drinking water is the best method to rehydrate the body. The body takes time to process the fluids that prevent cramping. If your run is longer than 10 miles (16 km), you’ll want to begin hydrating 2 to 3 days prior to race day.
2]         Stretch your muscles correctly before you begin a run. The muscles that cramp during a run are the ones in a near constant state of contraction, which are the calves, quads and hips.
3]         Run during times of lower heat and humidity. The hotter the temperature, the quicker your body loses fluids, thus leading to cramping.
4]         Wear comfortable shoes while running. Shoes that are ill fitting will put undue stress on your muscles and tendons. This stress increases the likelihood of cramping during a run.

5] Scrutinize your diet for foods that help and hinder the avoidance of cramps during a run.

  • Caffeinated beverages will dehydrate your muscles.
  • Bananas contain potassium that can help prevent cramping.
  • Meals high in protein and/or fat are especially problematic. Don’t consume them within 4 or 5 hours before a run.
  • For longer runs like this, you’ll want to eat plenty of carbohydrates the night before.

6]         Keep your pace consistent during the run to avoid cramping. The pace should be even and one that matches your current fitness level.

For more information:

 Courtesy Dr. Tamorish Kole, Senior Consultant & Head of Emergency Medicine of Max Healthcare, India and Medical Director of Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2013


 It’s important you breathe properly whilst running as this action supplies your body with the much needed oxygen. If you aren’t getting enough oxygen while running, then your muscles will feel fatigue sooner and you may find yourself feeling lightheaded or dizzy. Developing proper breathing habits may take practice, but once you’ve mastered breathing correctly, you will see an improvement in your endurance and overall running performance.

Warming Up: Just as warming up before your run prepares your muscles for the strain of running, it also helps you to establish a proper breathing pattern by gradually increasing your respiration.
Breathing from the Diaphragm: Whilst running you may be tempted to take quick, shallow breaths that inflate the chest but not the abdomen. These “chest breaths” allow you to breathe faster. However as they fill only a portion of the lungs, you’re not getting much oxygen, despite the faster respiration. Instead you should focus on breathing with the diaphragm, taking deep “belly breaths” that expand the abdomen and fill the lungs fully. These deeper breaths allow you to take in significantly more oxygen with each breath and help you to avoid fatigue while running.
Mouth and Nose: Breathing in through your nose limits the amount of air that you’re taking in, restricting your overall oxygen intake when you need it the most. Instead, you should breathe through both your nose and mouth or just through your mouth if you have trouble taking in air through both. Exhale through both as well, allowing the majority of the air to escape through your mouth.
Establishing a Rhythm: Use your steps to help you establish a breathing rhythm. When breathing at a normal pace, try to inhale over the course of three steps and exhale over the course of two; this means that you would inhale as your left foot strikes the pavement, continue inhaling as your right foot strikes and then finish inhaling as your left foot strikes again. As your right foot strikes you would then begin exhaling and finish exhaling as your left foot strikes. You can adjust this rhythm as needed to meet your oxygen needs, choosing a 2-2 rhythm, a 3-3 rhythm or even a 2-1 rhythm as you become tired and your breathing rate increases.
Avoiding a Full Stomach: Try not to run soon after eating a large meal. If your stomach is full it can compete with your lungs for space in the abdominal cavity, slightly reducing the amount of air that you can take in when you need as much oxygen as you can get. Running on a full stomach also means that your stomach will be repeatedly jostled as you run, and this jostling can lead to nausea or other stomach problems.
The Talk Test: Try talking while running to measure how intense your workout is. If you are breathing normally while running, you should be able to talk with relatively little difficulty. If you experience significant difficulty talking, then it means that you’re breathing too fast; either you’re becoming fatigued from a workout that’s more intense than you can handle at the moment or you’re breathing incorrectly and are trying to take in additional air. Try slowing down slightly until your breathing returns to normal and then adjusting your breathing technique to incorporate deeper and more rhythmic breaths.
Cooling Down: As with warming up, cooling down helps your breathing as much as it helps your fatigued muscles. Walking or performing other cool-down exercises allows you to normalize your breathing gradually, thereby keeping your breathing in sync with your body’s oxygen needs while your heart rate slows, preventing hyperventilation that can occur when you suddenly stop running. It also allows your diaphragm to gradually cool down, allowing it to slowly relax like the muscles in your legs and arms.
Note: Those who have prior episodes of breathing difficulty which required medical advice/ intervention stop running while you have similar episodes and ask for help at Base Stations/ medical Stations/ Ambulances / Mobike Medical posts or to any fellow runners.

Courtesy Dr. Tamorish Kole, Senior Consultant & Head of Emergency Medicine of Max Healthcare, India and Medical Director of Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2013


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