Exercise-associated muscle cramps not only affect athletic performance, but for some athletes and athletic individuals, they can be completely debilitating. Can you prevent muscle cramps when you train?

Many experts believe that dehydration, with subsequent fluid and electrolyte depletion, is largely responsible for muscle cramps with physical activity. While it is difficult to prove if the following steps would completely eliminate the risks for muscle cramping, they are good steps for general hydration that could make cramping less likely.

Monitor your body weight before and after training to assess fluid loss, especially in hot, humid environments. This is important, as all athletes differ in their fluid requirements. Ideally you want to replace fluids to keep fluid losses to less than 2% of body weight after any given training session.

Tips to prevent muscle cramps with exercise

Try to drink water or sports drinks at least an hour before training to ensure that the fluid has been absorbed by your body. And then drink fluids throughout practice to replace fluid lost through sweating.

Some experts recommend adding salt to sports drinks for athletes prone to muscle cramping.

Also read:
Hydration strategies for young athletes
Safely exercise in hot weather

You should also eat a well-balanced diet that provides the necessary amounts of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes.

Finally, many people feel that overall conditioning affects an athlete’s propensity to cramp. Endurance training is likely beneficial. Plyometric training has been promoted as helpful for athletes to prevent muscle cramps.