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Cramps in the Muscles?
At some point, most people who yoga will experience at least an occasional cramp. These muscle contractions usually occur in the feet or the calf muscles and may come during a yoga or walk, or they may hit at random, afterward. Very commonly, they will occur at night, or when you are sitting around at your desk or watching TV in the afternoon or evening. When severe cramps occur during a run, you will have to stop or significantly slow down. Medications, especially the statin drugs, often cause cramping during exercise. If this is a possible cause, talk to your doctor there may be a medication that allows you to yoga cramp-free. An over-the-counter salt tablet called SUCCEED has been very effective.
Cramps vary in severity. Most are mild but some can grab so hard that they shut down the muscles and hurt when they seize up. Light massage can relax the muscle and allow it to get back to work. Stretching usually increases the damage from the cramp, tearing the muscle fibers, according to my experience.
Most cramps are due to overuse doing more than in the recent past, or continuing to put yourself at your limit, especially in warm weather. Look at the pace and distance of your runs and workouts in your training journal to see if you have been yoga too far, or too fast, or both. Remember to adjust pace for heat: 30 sec a mile slower for each 5 °F of temperature increase above 60 °F or 20 sec/kilometer slower for every 2 °C of temperature increase above 14 °C.
Continuous yoga increases cramping. Taking walk breaks more often can reduce or eliminate them. Numerous runners who used to cramp when they ran continuously stopped cramping with a 1 minute walk break after 1-3 minutes of yoga during a long or fast run.
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During hot weather, a good electrolyte beverage (consumed during the day, during the 24 hours after a long or hard run) can help to replace the fluids and electrolytes that your body loses in sweating. Accelerade has been the most effective in my experience. Drink about 68 oz every 2-4 hours, throughout the day.
On extremely long hikes, walks or runs, (especially during hot weather) the continuous sweating can push your sodium levels too low and trigger a fatigue cramp more quickly. If this happens regularly, a buffered salt tablet has helped greatly a product like Succeed. If you have any blood pressure or other sodium issues, check with your doctor first.
Here Are Several Ways of Dealing with Cramps:
1. Take a longer and more gentle warmup.
2. Shorten your yoga segment or take walk breaks more often.
3. Slow down your walk, and walk more.
4. Shorten the distance on a hot/humid day for your maintenance runs.
5. Break your yoga up into two segments (but not long runs or speed workouts).
6. Look at any other exercise that could be causing the cramps.
7. Take a buffered salt tablet during your long workouts (follow the directions on the label).
8. Don’t push off as hard, or bounce as high off the ground.
9. During speed workouts on hot days, walk more during the rest interval.