Why Do We Cramp When Exercising?

Conditioning, or lack thereof, is the primary reason for cramping.

Studies have shown that neither dehydration or electrolyte imbalances are responsible for cramps experienced whilst exercising. Training and racing beyond your usual duration and intensity are the most likely culprits.

Triathletes report cramping more than any other sport. The best way to manage cramping is to stop the activity, (although the cramp usually does this for you!) and to gently stretch it out.

So next time you feel a cramp coming on, ask yourself  “Have I put in the necessary training ?”

Bearing in mind this has to be both quantity and quality.

When we speak of quality we need to include strength, co-ordination and endurance activities in our training programs.

Schwelnus M P, Drew N, Collins M 2008 Muscle Cramping in Athletes- Risk Factors, Clinical Assessment and Management. Clin Sports Med 27: 183-194

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Cheryl Stacey BSc (Physio) SPT

Cheryl qualified from Wits in 1993 and worked for a variety on practices locally and abroad to gain a vast scope of practice. She opened her own practice in 1999 seeing orthopaedic and sports patients as well as 6 years spent treating post- operative spinal patients.

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