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How to prevent leg cramps while training or racing

Tips to avoid cramping issues through strength, mobility and other measures

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This post is brought to you by Hyland’s Leg Cramp Tablets.

If you’re one of the lucky few triathletes on the planet who have never experienced muscle cramps in their legs while training or racing, more power to you. Most of us, though, are all-too aware of an uncontrollable tightening and contracting feeling in a calf, hamstring, or quadriceps muscle during hard effort (often in the heat), and how it can stop us in our tracks.

In many ways the hardest part of dealing with leg cramps is that it is difficult to figure out what is causing them. One study of 210 Ironman athletes found there was little difference in dehydration or serum sodium changes between the athletes who got cramps and the ones who did not – in fact, that study found that pace and intensity appeared to be better predictors of who would get cramps versus those who did not – the harder you were going the more likely you were to cramp.

While research has not shown any definitive links to dehydration or electrolyte imbalances, some studies have supported most of our anecdotal experience that use of carbohydrate/ electrolyte beverages during activity can delay the onset of muscle cramps. There is also some thought that cramps that are specific to one muscle might be related to neural fatigue – repeatedly contracting a muscle while taking 50,000 steps during a marathon could predispose you to muscle cramps, which could be exacerbated if you are dehydrated or running into carbohydrate deficit at the end of a long day of training or racing.

Preventing leg cramps

Elite marathon runner, coach and chiropractor Dr. Brittany Moran says that since it is so hard to figure out why people run into cramping issues, it is important to “approach this from all angles in trying to get that athlete as prepared as possible to take on the task.” That means starting with a plan to ensure you are properly hydrated and are taking in any electrolytes you might be losing during a hard effort, especially on hot days. But that is not all you should be doing – Dr. Moran also suggests you do everything you can to ensure your body is moving well and your muscles have the specific strength required to succeed.


Dr. Brittany Moran

Sport-specific strength/ Consistent mobility routine:

While most triathletes tend to feel leg cramps during the run portion of the race, it is not unusual to experience cramping during the swim or bike portions of a race, too. Gradually building your training to ensure you are strengthening your muscles for each sport is critical to success. A consistent mobility routine like one of the ones developed by the Runner’s Academy can help you gain body awareness and pick up any subtle changes in strength or mobility. “If these persist and get worse it could be an indication that something is wrong and therefore needs some extra attention before letting it go too long and risking it becoming an injury,” Dr. Moran says.

Supportive care:

Having a supportive team to help if you do run into issues can be an integral part of making sure you avoid issues. “The goal is to keep the body moving well and not allow small issues to become injuries,” Dr. Moran says. By proactively dealing with “niggles” or aches and pains you can avoid developing injuries, muscle imbalances or weakness that could lead to many issues including cramps.


If your cramps are due to neural fatigue, swimming, biking, or running more efficiently “may decrease the load at certain areas in the body and maybe help that area to not reach fatigue and therefore muscle cramps,” Dr. Moran continues.

When all else fails

For some athletes, Dr. Moran’s suggestions are not always enough – no matter how much they stay hydrated with water and electrolyte replacement drinks and work on their mobility, they still run into cramping issues. Some of these athletes have found that Hyland’s Leg Cramps, a natural health product that offers fast acting pain relief and relaxes leg cramps, can help. You simply put a few tablets (the athletes we had try the product found anywhere from one to three tablets worked best) under your tongue, either as a pre-emptive measure before a workout, or as you start to feel the muscles in your leg cramp up.  An alternative pre-emptive measure is to add a single dose to an 8oz bottle of water to give healing support to you throughout your workout.  Hyland’s Leg Cramps do not contain Aspirin, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen or Naproxen, artificial flavours or ingredients.  Hyland’s Leg Cramps PM can also provide relief for those who experience night-time leg cramps, too.

Brought to you by Hyland’s Leg Cramp Pills.