Cramps are a total bother and a complete hindrance, especially when it comes to exercising. But what's causing them? And are you the only one experiencing them with such frequency? According to Stephanie Pipia, a Chicago-based Tier 4 master trainer, today's population is experiencing more cramps than years past due to the fact that we live hectic lives. “We live in a high-stress society and people don’t pay attention to nutrition,” she explains. And all that stress makes us forget about the importance of hydration. “We simply don’t take in a lot of water,” she continues. Equinox Tier 4 trainer and master instructor Michael Ricchio says that the increase in cramps our population is experiencing might be due to our career habits, as many of us tend to stay sedentary at a desk for the majority of our days. “Even those of us who exercise daily have a sedentary life 22 to 23 hours a day,” he explains. “The jump from a primarily sedentary routine into a strenuous workout can easily result in cramping.” As for the types of workouts we're doing, he says, “Workout trends are moving towards the highest of intensities, and often those ask the body to perform at levels it is not prepared for.” Want to know how to avoid cramps? Pipia and Ricchio give us the three easiest ways to do so.
- Hydrate hours before a workout. “People go all day without drinking water or work out first thing in the morning and get a cramp because they’re dehydrated,” says Pipia. Rather than deal with this, try to hydrate two hours before you get active.
- Be mindful of minerals. “The absence of proper chemicals in the body, such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium, can cause cramps via a stimulus similar to a signal from the brain — but one we have no control over,” says Ricchio. Make sure to regularly incorporate dark, leafy greens, bananas and avocados into your diet.
- Pace yourself. Don't kick your heart rate into high gear too quickly. “Too often people jump into a routine because they want the high intensity stuff right away, but it’s important to build a foundation so that your body becomes more efficient at transporting blood and oxygen to the muscles," Pipia says.