Headed to the Mini Marathon soon? Whether you're running a half, a full marathon or going for even more miles, leg cramps can be a concern. Sports medicine specialist Catherine Reese, MD, with Franciscan Physician Network in Carmel and downtown Indianapolis, answers your questions about what to do when you get a calf or leg cramp while running your marathon or other long-distance race.
A: Calf or leg cramps can happen during your race. Athletic trainers are usually on site, prepared to help, if you have injuries or cramping while running. Trainers carry around mustard packs and sports drinks, which both contain a burst of electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals in the body that have an electric charge and are absorbed from the foods you eat and the fluids you drink. These two items help when trying to get rid of muscle cramps.
Doctors and athletic trainers also recommend that the runners stretch and keep moving the leg to relieve cramps.
A: I would suggest a dynamic warm up before the race. Stretching can be done after the race to have a lesser chance of cramping and after running.
You may need to start off slow until you get back into moving fully, but just keep moving, no matter the pace. Moving can include light activity, but just try to get back to moving at least 48 to 72 hours after the race.