Calf Cramps After Sprinting?

by Shaina

calf cramps after sprinting

I'm a sprinter and lately, I have been getting painful calf cramps after my workout at practice. My calf muscles feel tight, stiff and hard. Almost like the muscles are flexing to 100% it's ability, only it's involuntary.

One day at practice, we ran a 400m, 200m, then 100m. My calf cramped up for about two minutes, but it wasn't too bad. I was able to walk it off.
Then the next day we ran five 100m repeats. I was supposed to run ten but my cramps came back and I had to stop. It was extremely painful and this time lasted about 5 minutes. I couldn't even move my leg, it hurt so bad.

It just recently happened (a few hours ago), I have been stretching it, icing it, and even heating it. Please tell me specific things I can do to help this. I know that if you answer this question, it may be days after I have asked it, but I would but I'd still appreciate any advice you know of.

Answer by Dominique:

calf cramps after sprinting

Hi there,

Thanks for your question about calf cramps. I'm here to help you navigate through this. Your calf cramps sound like quite the roadblock – a bit like hitting a speed bump at full throttle, all you want to do is fly, but this keeps grounding you, right?

Let's tackle this together and explore some underlying causes and ways to deal with this. Let's cover:

1. Overexertion causing calf cramps
2. Hydration and nutrition
3. Existing hidden injury causing issues
4. Massage can get you back on track

Overexertion causing Calf Cramps

I used to get calf cramps a lot when I was a teenager playing soccer. I was a midfielder and cruised the field extensively. Towards the end of games, when I used to be completely wiped out, I'd get calf cramps.

Overexertion, simply pushing yourself too much for too long, will bring on calf cramps. Consider if this could be a cause of you experiencing calf cramps.

Hydration and Nutrition

calf cramps after sprinting

Just like cars run smoother on the right fuel, you may need to rethink your 'runner's fuel' too. Dehydration and low potassium levels can often cause muscle cramps, making that perfect sprint seem more like an uphill struggle.

You can counteract this by taking in sufficient water or possibly some sports drinks. Additionally, I can highly recommend having a banana - nature's energy bar – as your pre-workout snack. Bananas are rich in potassium. It may just be the little extra you need ahead of a tough workout.

An extra bit of advice: this isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Experiment with different dietary adjustments to find what fuels your engine best.

Existing Hidden Injury Causing Issues

Lastly, consider if this is a sign of an underlying injury. I have had issues with hamstrings before, where I would get these muscle spasms, much like cramping. Turned out that I had torn a muscle.

Not saying this is the case for you, but if this continues to happen, consider it as a possiblity.

Massage Can Get You Back on Track

calf cramps after sprinting

If your muscles are continuously stiff and hard, then I would recommend some deep-tissue massage to loosen it up.

After your muscles are loose again, make sure you follow some advice from the page about running stretches.

Make sure you get a proper warm-up routine and work on strengthening your legs; especially heel drops and calf raises would be good for you (for anyone for that matter!).

These recommendations could be just the little bit you need to overcome the troublesome calf cramps. Remember: try not to overwork yourself, fuel and hydrate properly, watch out for potential injuries and keep those muscles loose with massages and stretches.

Stay strong, and keep sprinting!

If you are not making progress, I would highly recommend that you go see a medical professional for a thorough evaluation and personalized recommendations. Also see this page about Running and Calf Cramps for more info.

Hope this helps a bit.
Kind regards,

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