How to Keep Cramps Away on Your Run

From beginner runners to elite marathoners, cramps and sore muscles can slow down a run. But there are plenty of ways you can curb the pain.

Where's the Pain?

Side cramps: Pain in the side rib area.

Cause: The reason for this pain is you are not breathing deep enough and need to lengthen your inhale time.

Remedy: Try a new technique in which you breathe at a ratio of 3:2, or inhale three steps then exhale for two. If your stomach doesn't appear to move when you breathe, you are not breathing deep enough. This breathing method will come naturally after you practice it for a little while and will make running at normal speed easier. Your breathing will have to change when you run at a faster pace, usually 2:1, in order to accommodate for the faster foot movement.

Stomach cramps: Pain in the stomach.

Cause: This could also be caused by incorrect breathing but can also be from what you ate or drank before and during the run

Remedy: Try not to eat anything less than two hours before a long run, or about an hour before a short run, and try not drink anything more than a few ounces less than 30 minutes before a run. Fill up on fluids before that 30 minute mark (about 20 to 24 oz.), and only take small sips during the run if you need to (5 to 8 oz. every 25 minutes). Excess food and fluids in your stomach will not allow for full breaths and will cause bad cramps.

If you experience cramps during the run, slow down a bit and try breathing deeper while maintaining pace, this should help subside the cramping.

Other Tips to Prevent Cramps

To help prevent cramping, try torso stretches to help stretch out the muscles and lead to less pain during the run. Try lying on your back and reaching your arms as high as they can go parallel to the ground. Do the same with your legs, this will stretch out your abdominal region.

If you run in the morning, try to run without eating. This may be tough at first, but I have found that eating something before you run only complicates things and usually causes cramping. After a few weeks of doing this, your body should be adapted to not feeling hungry so early after you wake up.

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