How to Prevent Leg Cramps in Athletes

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Leg cramps can cripple an athlete and keep her from performing during a sporting event. Prevention of leg cramps in athletes is essential to the process of training and critical to performing at peak potential. There are many different ways to prevent leg cramps in athletes, allowing them to get the most out of their body.

  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep the body hydrated. Athletes need to constantly drink fluids that will replenish their electrolytes, as well as keep them hydrated. Drinking water or sports drinks such as Powerade or Gatorade will restore some of the electrolytes and moisture spent during training and ward off leg cramps.

  • Consume the proper nutrients to fortify the body. As an athlete, nutrition should be a high priority during training. Eat the proper nutrients that allow your body to replenish potassium, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients can be found in bananas, oranges, potatoes with the skin, beans, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, nuts and milk. These foods will help athletes prevent leg cramps.

  • Rub away the pain on a consistent basis. Massage helps your leg muscles recuperate faster and helps prevent cramping in your legs. Whether an athlete's choice is to use an electric massager, hand massage himself or go to a professional, massage stimulates blood flow to the leg muscles and relaxes them. Massage is most beneficial after exercise.

  • Avoid over-training or straining the leg muscles. The Olympics have shown us many runners and athletes who have lost a competition because of leg cramps. Over-training your muscles can stress them unnecessarily, increasing the chances of leg cramps and injury. While workouts and training should always be challenging, know your limits.

  • Stretch first. Stretching before you exercise helps warm up the leg muscles properly. Warm-ups and stretches for about 10 minutes before you exercise will help to avoid cramps by stimulating blood flow to local muscle areas such as the calf, quadriceps, hamstring and buttock. Stretches are especially important for an athlete who does sprints or long distance running.

Tips & Warnings

  • Taking a multivitamin may help to ensure that your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to avoid leg cramps.
  • Get plenty of rest when performing heavy physical training or exercise with any part or your body and especially your legs. Sleep at least 6 to 8 hours a night to give your body time to heal. Take breaks often during training to avoid over-exhaustion.

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