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How to Prevent Cramps When Exercising

Get-Fit Guy's 5 tips for preventing cramps when you exercise.

By
Ben Greenfield,
Episode #034

Can Lack of Flexibility Cause Cramping?

Researchers hypothesize that the taste of a salty substance sends a message to the brain to actually inhibit the firing of the nerves that can cause a muscle to cramp.

In theory, very, very tight muscles may be more likely to cramp. For example, if you sit at a desk all day without standing up and walking around, then your hip flexors are in a shortened position for a long time. That can produce inflexible, chronically shortened hip flexors that may be more likely to seize up and cramp when your brain tells them to contract.

The solution to this is simple. If you’re constantly cramping in a specific muscle group, then begin stretching those muscles! To actually improve flexibility in a muscle, you must hold the stretch for at least 6 seconds, and preferably closer to 20 seconds. Here’s a link to the exact stretches that I personally do on a daily basis. So with the example of the hip flexor, for every hour that you sit, you could stand and do a 20-second lunging hip flexor stretch in which you get into a lunge position and reach for the sky.

Can Drinking Pickle Juice Help Muscle Cramps?

A very interesting study at Brigham Young University actually forced people who were exercising and dehydrated into having muscle cramps and then tested whether an incredibly salty solution (pickle juice) could reverse the cramp. Amazingly, the pickle juice worked in just a few seconds.

Even more amazingly, these few seconds weren’t long enough for the salts in the pickle juice to actually reach the muscle. So the researchers hypothesized that the taste of a salty substance sends a message to the brain to actually inhibit the firing of the nerves that can cause a muscle to cramp. Finally, a practical use for pickle juice!

5 Ways to Prevent Muscle Cramps When Exercising

So ultimately, here are the 5 ways to stop cramping during exercise:

  1. Get into shape

  2. Stay hydrated

  3. If you exercise a lot, use electrolytes

  4. Keep cramping muscles flexible

  5. Eat something very salty

If you have your own cramping avoidance tips that you’ve discovered, then why not leave them as a discussion on the Get-Fit Guy Facebook page?

Muscle Cramp image courtesy of Shutterstock

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