Half Marathon Q: Why Do My Legs Cramp?

Expert answers to your most pressing concerns—posted every Friday between now and race day: April 3, 2011!

By MORE.com Health Editors
woman stretching legs image
Photograph: Izabela Habur

Q: Why do my legs cramp, and how can I make it stop?

A: “Most cramping is a result of either over-using your legs while running (especially the lower legs), or having low levels of electrolytes—minerals in your blood and other bodily fluids that affect hydration and muscle function,” says Danny Dreyer, creator of ChiRunning and ChiWalking, two movement techniques influenced by t’ai chi. “However, both of these problems are easily remedied.”

  • When running, allow your entire body to fall forward so that you lean slightly from the ankles. Land with knees slightly bent in a midfoot strike, not a heel strike.
  • Practice using this forward lean for propulsion instead of your legs. This will give your leg muscles a chance to relax while you run. Let gravity pull you forward as you lean.
  • Consume an electrolyte-replacement drink during workouts that last longer than 45 minutes. After 45 minutes of running, you should take one electrolyte capsule every 45 minutes or drink the equivalent amount of electrolyte-replacement drink.

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First Published February 4, 2011

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