How to avoid muscle cramping

by Philip MacDonald | Last updated

A reader sent in a question asking “what are some suggestions to avoid cramping in soccer tournaments?”  This is a great question as many of us have a lengthy season and often one or more soccer tournament (s) which include multiple games in a short amount of time.  The good news is that if you learn to effectively prepare your body, you will avoid muscle cramping.

There are some basic things to understand about cramping.  Muscle cramping can occur during a single match or several hours after a match out of the clear blue (or even during your sleep).  It is the result of lactic acid that has not left the system or where the muscles have been overworked and it’s their way of forcing the body to stop exercising.

Simple ways to avoid muscle cramping include:

  • Do a cool-down after every game followed by stretching.  Many players skip these steps which is a major mistake! The older you become, the more important it is to properly cool-down and stretch after every match and training session.  This is often why you will see professional hockey players being interviewed on the stationary bicycle after a hockey game.  It is a simple way of clearing lactic acid from the body.  Cool-downs can consist of 5-10 minutes of light jogging followed by 10 minutes of stretching.
  • If possible, take a hot or cold bath with epsom salt mixed in the water.  This is a great way to relax the muscles after a match.
  • Be sure to hydrate properly.  If you are low on salt, your body requires electrolytes which can best be found in gatorade. Otherwise, stick to water.  Also, have a bit of simple carbohydrates immediately after a game.  The simplest thing is to have a banana although you can have other forms of carbohydrates.

Finally, muscle cramping should also be an indication of your level of fitness.  Be sure to train properly in the off-season to prepare your body for the lengthy season and eventual tournament (s) over the summer.  If you are not in shape, muscle cramping can become a serious issue, therefore, train your body properly and you won’t have to deal with this issue.

Best of luck and hopefully you don’t have to experience the pains of muscle cramping.

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