6 Steps for Preventing Muscular Cramps During Exercise

October 31, 2017 , ,

Is there anything worse than getting a muscular cramp or stich in your side during training? While you might have heard that muscular cramps are due to dehydration or a lack of electrolytes, this theory is increasingly put in doubt, and it seems that there are other factors at play. An increasing number of studies show that people who suffer from cramps have similar levels of electrolytes and hydration than those who don’t develop cramps. In fact, the most probable cause of muscular cramps could be muscular fatigue, although scientists don’t yet understand all the underlying mechanisms. Here are a few simple tips to prevent muscular cramps.

1) Proper Breathing

Muscular cramps and side stiches can be caused by a poor breathing technique. It’s important to breathe deeply with your stomach when you’re practicing a physical activity. Abdominal breathing (with your stomach) is more effective and enables the absorption of a larger quantity of oxygen compared with thoracic breathing (with your chest), which isn’t deep enough as it only uses the upper part of the lungs. With thoracic breathing, inhaled air does not remain in the lungs long enough, which stops the air from being completely renewed and limits the quantity of inhaled and exhaled air. To get used to breathing properly during exercise, it’s important to practice breathing exercises regularly. To absorb a maximum amount of oxygen during exercise, it’s preferable to breathe simultaneously through your nose and mouth. Breathing through your nose only does not enable enough oxygen to be absorbed.

Stomach Breathing Exercise

Lying on your back or standing up, place a hand on your tummy. Inhale slowly, deeply and as long as possible while inflating your tummy, then exhale slowly and as long as possible while pulling in your stomach. Try to get all the air out of your lungs when you exhale. Repeat several times.

2) Pay Attention to Posture and Muscular Tension

Practicing exercises with proper technique and maintaining good posture enables you to limit muscular tension and cramps. It’s also important to maintain proper posture and avoid being tense during the day to avoid starting a workout with pre-existing tensions. Massages, stretching and releasing muscular tension with a foam roller or a small ball can also be very useful. Proper stress management will also help!

3) Plan Your Workouts and Their Intensity

Muscular cramps usually affect muscles that are contracted repeatedly. Muscles that aren’t involved in effort don’t generally get muscular cramps. Inadequate physical preparation, very intense effort, or a sudden change in exercise intensity are factors that can increase your risk of getting muscular cramps. It is therefore important to work out at your own pace, respect your limits, set realistic goals and properly manage the intensity of your workouts.

Pages: 1 2


Kathryn Adel
Kathryn completed degrees in kinesiology and nutrition, as well as a Masters in Sports Nutrition. She is a member of OPDQ and of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She ran track and cross-country at a national level. Kathryn specializes in sports nutrition, weight loss, diabetes, as well as heart and gastrointestinal health. Kathryn is experienced with the low FODMAP diet and she completed the Monash University low FODMAP dietitian's training.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to give the best user experience, monitor the site performance, offer social networks features, or display advertisements. By clicking "ACCEPT", you consent to the use of cookies in accordance to our privacy policy.

Our weekly newsletter includes:

  • Recipes, tips and advice on healthy eating
  • Occasional promotions on products & services from SOSCuisine and some trusted partners
  • Occasional invitations to help scientific research by answering surveys or participating in studies
  • Your email address will never be shared without your permission and you may unsubscribe at any time.
SOSCuisine, 3470 Stanley, Suite 1605, Montreal, QC, H3A 1R9, Canada.