How to Prevent Muscle Cramps During Exercise

Learn how to prevent muscle cramps during exercise by understanding why they happen and how to replenish electrolytes.

How to Prevent Muscle Cramps During Exercise

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it can also lead to muscle cramps if you don't take the right precautions. Low salt levels are one of the main causes of muscle cramps during long runs, and it's important to understand why this happens and how to prevent it. During exercise, sodium is lost in sweat and blood sodium levels decrease. When this happens, the body regulates sodium levels and there is a cascade of hormonal changes that cause sodium to build up again.

In people who wear heavy or salty sweaters, the body may not be able to keep up with the amount of sodium lost in sweat and sodium levels can drop dangerously, called hyponatremia. Before sodium levels fall to ranges that may be referred to as hyponatremia, muscle cramps and contractions can occur. To avoid this type of cramp, you may need to consume more sodium during workouts. Everyone is aware of the importance of hydration during extreme physical activity and sports to maximize performance.

Without hydration, long periods of exercise and physical work can cause muscle cramps. However, there are times when simple hydration is not sufficient to supply adequate amounts of electrolytes that support normal muscle function. As a result, athletes often drink salt water to prevent cramps. Sodium regulates the body's fluid balance and supports nerve and muscle function.

When sodium levels are too low, the body responds with painful symptoms such as headaches, extreme fatigue, and painful muscle cramps. Maintaining sodium levels is important for athletes and endurance workers to function at the highest level.To prevent muscle cramps during exercise, it's important to make sure you're getting enough electrolytes in your diet. Eating foods high in sodium such as nuts, seeds, and legumes can help keep your electrolyte levels up. You can also drink sports drinks or electrolyte-rich beverages such as coconut water or Gatorade to replenish your electrolytes during exercise.