If you are a runner, then I am sure that you will know about calf cramps.
Imagine this scenario if you will. Let's say that you are 7.5k into a 10k run and road starts to incline. Ever so slightly, but enough to put that extra strain on your legs as you try to maintain contact with leaders. And temperature? Well, it's morning, but it's hot and liable to get hotter before end. And to make matters worse, you were so desperate to maintain contact with leading group, that you forgot to take on liquid at last feeding station. And did you use tight fitting calf length socks? I know they are all rage, but why did you do it?
So what do we have here?
* Extra strain on muscles? * Dehydration? * Loss of essentials salts? * Restriction of blood flow?
All in all, I think that we are describing running calf cramps, waiting to happen.
I am not sure that anyone has definitive answer to cause of cramps, but there are certainly several steps that you can take which could help save you from disaster during competition, in any sport.
1. A Proper Warm Up
Ok, I know you know, but did you do it? If not, then those cramps could be coming. Seriously, if you have been involved in any sport to any level, then you will be aware of importance of a proper warm up. And I don't just mean a brisk walk up stairs to changing room either! A proper warm up should include a routine that gently stretches your muscles to get them ready for increased exertion, and gets your blood flowing around your body. Not only will a warm help prevent calf cramps, they will also help prevent some of injuries that might occur when you put sudden strain on cold muscles.
And whilst we are talking of warm ups, don't forget warm downs as well. Warming down after exercise can also help prevent cramping and reduce risk of injury.
2. Train Hard, Run Easy
Have you heard this before? No? Well you should give it some thought, because it's true. When you train for a sport, not only do you practice necessary skills required to execute which ever event you are competing in, but you are also training your body for rigours of event. To given an exaggerated example, if you train for a sprint, and then try and run a marathon, your body won't be ready. If you try it, I think you could be in for some serious cramps.