Welcome to the last two weeks of August, also known as “Calf Cramp Season” at Custom Performance. Like clockwork, we are treated to a deluge of marathoners complaining of calf cramping and pain.
Sound familiar? Here’s why:
1) Hydration, sweat, and electrolyte imbalance. Temperatures in August are high, and so is the humidity. Sweat rates increase exponentially, throwing off hydration, sodium, potassium, and magnesium. These elements are crucial for muscle performance and play a role in cramping.
2)Mileage. Increasing your mileage increases demand on the musculoskeletal system and increases fatigue. Fatigue has been shown in studies to be a leading cause of cramping!
3) Speed. Many marathoners are increasing their speed with their mileage. This is directly related to calf cramping, as the calves have to work harder to propel the body forward.
4) Shoe wear. Around this time, most NYC Marathoners get their second pair of shoes to start breaking in. It also coincides with flip flop season! Flip flops make the calves tighter by trying to add stability where there is not enough provided from the shoe.
5) History of cramping. Studies also show that a history of having cramps is a risk factor for current cramping!
If you’re relating to this article, here’s what to do about it:
1) Plan hydration, salt, and electrolytes into all of your workouts.
2) Try not to run during the hottest part of the day.
3) Don’t stress mileage or speed during these few weeks.
4) Make sure your running shoes are up to date.
5) Stretch your calves daily!
Wendy Winn, PT, OCS