With the sun out and the rain finally at bay, it’s more fun than ever to get outside and enjoy being active – weather it be running, walking, biking or hiking (or perhaps even swimming if you’re really brave) lots of things are just more fun out in the sun. One common issue we face when exercising in the sun however, is cramp. With a little bit of preparation, however, you can avoid cramp!
As the temperature rises and the sun beats down, staying active and enjoying outdoor activities can be challenging due to the risk of muscle cramps. Whether you’re an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys spending time outdoors, the discomfort and inconvenience of cramps can put a damper on your summer fun. The main causes are dehydration, poor nutrition and a lack of stretching – common issues for anyone exercising outside. The good news is these are all problems you can plan for. Here’s some tips:
Hot weather amplifies the risk of dehydration, a leading cause of muscle cramps. To avoid this, it’s crucial to stay adequately hydrated. Begin by drinking water before heading out into the heat, and continue to sip on fluids throughout the day. Electrolyte-rich beverages such as sports drinks or coconut water can help replenish essential minerals lost through sweating. Remember to avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption as they can contribute to dehydration.
Fuel Up with Proper Nutrition
Maintaining a well-balanced diet is vital in preventing cramps during hot weather. Include foods rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium, as these electrolytes play a crucial role in muscle function. Bananas, oranges, leafy greens, yogurt, and nuts are excellent sources of these nutrients. Consider adding a basic multivitamin supplement to ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs adequately.
Warm-Up and Stretch
Before engaging in any physical activity, warm up your muscles with dynamic exercises. A warm-up routine improves blood circulation and enhances muscle flexibility, reducing the risk of cramps. Follow this with gentle stretching exercises that target the major muscle groups you’ll be using. Focus on areas prone to cramping, such as calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Remember, stretching should be performed both before and after your workouts to prevent muscle tightness and promote recovery. This is even more important in the heat.
Choose lightweight, breathable fabrics that allow proper air circulation and moisture evaporation. Loose-fitting clothing in light colors reflects heat and helps maintain a comfortable body temperature. Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics that pull sweat away from your skin, keeping you cool and reducing the likelihood of cramps. Don’t forget to wear a wide-brimmed hat or cap and sunglasses to shield yourself from the sun’s direct rays.
Listen to Your Body
Pay attention to any warning signs your body may be sending you. If you start feeling fatigued or experience muscle twitches, it’s essential to take a break and rest. Pushing through the discomfort can lead to more severe cramping or even heat exhaustion. Seek shade or an air-conditioned area, and elevate your legs to alleviate muscle strain. Applying a cold compress to the affected area can also provide relief and reduce inflammation.
Struggling with cramp?
Don’t let cramps ruin your summer adventures – remember, prevention is key, so take proactive steps to ensure a comfortable and cramp-free summer season. Stay active, stay hydrated, and stay cool! If after all of this, you’re still struggling with frequent cramp, (especially in the same location) it’s possible that a postural problem or small injury is the true cause. If that sounds like you, why not stop by the clinic and take advantage of our new patient special and let us help you get back out there!