Preventing Heat Cramps In Runners & Joggers
Heat cramps are common in hot weather. Coupled with the exertion of jogging, you need to take preventive action before you head out for your run.
Signs & Symptoms of Heat Cramps
One or more of these may be present. Quick action on your part will prevent the situation from exasperating.
- Excessive sweating
- Leg cramps running, or in arms or stomach
These cramps are from high weather temperatures and or physical exertion. This milder form of heat effects are the early signs of the body’s difficulty in keeping cool. Failure to take note and treat can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- You need to drink fluids and replace electrolytes as with sports drinks like Gatorade or eLoad (my favorite). If you do not have these, drink water. You should drink ½ cup every 15 minutes. Drinking too quickly does not allow for absorption of the fluids.
- Rest. If you are on a run, then stop and walk home or call someone for a pick-up.
- Get into a cool environment like air-conditioning or have a cool down shower.
Preventing Heat Cramps
You can run in the summer heat without putting yourself at risk. You just have to be a little smarter about it.
- Drink fluids throughout the day. Many people are so close to dehydration without realizing it that any exertion is enough to bring on symptoms.
- On very hot days or a long stretch of high heat, you probably need to replace electrolytes just as a matter of course. For example, I have the eLoad container out on the counter for my husband so he can help himself throughout the day. He works in the heat and without even running, he has suffered heat cramps and exhaustion.
- Do not go running if you already feel heated. That would just be silly, wouldn’t it? Go swimming instead.
- Run at the coolest time of the day.
- Keep your jogs short. Keep them pleasant and fun.
- If you just must get that run in, then use a treadmill. I trained for a marathon in the summer, spending many hours on the machine. Therefore, your training need not suffer. In fact, by being better hydrated you will make your training more effective.
When the summer temperatures are in the 80’s and 90’s, you must also recognize that accumulations of heat effects are more likely to occur. This fact makes it difficult to maintain hydration and electrolyte balance because your body is trying to handle the heat as best as it can over a longer period. I want to make sure I point that out so that you understand that it important to also use your head. I know you have the will to run. Just keep that will nicely balanced with your intelligence to stay healthy.
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