Avoiding Muscle Cramps - She Runs Eats Performs

Episode 108

Published on:

11th Aug 2022

Avoiding Muscle Cramps

Muscle Cramping can be debilitating for some runners. They are unpredictable, painful and can last for several minutes. But what causes them and why do they affect some runners and not others?? We aim to answer these and many other questions. We....

  1. Outline the definition of muscle cramps and discuss their potential causes and symptoms.
  2. Highlight some nutrition and lifestyle strategies to help prevent and/or manage muscle cramps
  3. Discuss how to put these strategies into place so you can minimise the risk of muscle cramps occurring during your next run/race



Defining Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps (EAMC) and acknowledging its prevalence in athletes 


Introducing the two currently acknowledges theories as potential CAUSES of exercise-associated muscle cramps:

  • The hydration and electrolyte theory
  • The Neuromuscular dysfunction theory


Concentrating on potential risk factors in the development of EAMC in some athletes including:

  • High intensity, long duration and hilly terrain running 
  • Premature muscle fatigue 
  • Race/competition - due to running at a higher than usual intensity  
  • Age – older runners at greater risk
  • Long history of running  



  • Men appear to be more prone to EAMC than women 


Outlining some nutritional strategies to help prevent or manage EAMC including:

  • Pickle juice and other vinegar-based fluids
  • Spices including: chilli, ginger and cinnamon
  • Electrolyte balance, especially: sodium, magnesium, potassium and calcium 


Highlighting the importance of NOT using quinine to prevent or manage EAMC.


Considering some lifestyle factors to help support or prevent EAMC including:

For Support:

  • Stop/pause running 
  • Rest until the pain/cramping has subsided
  • Massage the area 
  • Magnesium salt bath and spray

To Prevent:

  • Strength training and plyometrics 
  • Suitable rest and recovery between training sessions
  • Stretching before and after a run
  • Regular Mg baths and spray


Giving ideas of how to put the nutritional and lifestyle factors into practice including:

  • Drinking the vinegar-based fluids regularly
  • Drinking the fluids at the same time as stretching to minimise time to recovery
  • Introduce the therapeutic spices into the diet REGULARLY
  • Test magnesium status so nutritional supplementation can be targeted
  • Remember to prioritise REST and SLEEP 



1) Remember there are many different potential causes of muscle cramping including medical conditions and medications, which would require consultation with a medical professional

2) Exercise-associated muscle cramping is thought to be a temporary but intense and painful condition that may last for seconds only up to several minutes and onset generally occurs during or shortly after exercise

3) To-date there are two potential causes of EAMC that have been extensively researched:

  • Electrolyte imbalance or deficiency
  • Neuromuscular dysfunction

however the true cause still remains elusive

4) There are many potential risk factors for the development of EAMC so it is recommended you try to determine YOURS and diminish them if within your control

5) There are several nutritional approaches to support EAMC including: electrolyte drinks, pickle juice and certain spices. Which approach to use will depend on the potential cause/triggers of YOUR EAMC.

6) Remember, it is not just about nutrition…there are lifestyle approaches that may help diminish/prevent EAMC including: regular stretching, strength training, adequate rest and recovery and regular Mg baths/sprays. 


FOCUS ON...Magnesium

Does Dehydration Impair Running Performance?

FOCUS ON....Calcium


The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and

advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.

If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact

your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

Aileen Smith and Karen Campbell host RUNNERS HEALTH HUB. A place for like-minded female runners who are looking for simple ways to support running performance, energy, endurance, and general great health.

if this is your first time your show and you’d like to know more about us and She Runs Eats Performs please check out our TRAILER.

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Happy Running!

Aileen and Karen


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About the Podcast

She Runs Eats Performs
for mid-life female runners of all abilities
Are you confused about the science around nutrition for runners? Listen in to learn about the WHY, HOW, WHAT, and WHEN of eating to fuel your running performance.

We are here to help you translate sports nutritional science, into easy to apply tips and plans, helping you enjoy peak running performance. We focus on the FEMALE FACTORS every mid-life woman needs to know to be a healthy runner.

About your host

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Aileen Smith

Nutritionists, Educators, Podcasters, Runners and Friends

We have a love of running and a passion for nutrition, delicious food and healthy living. She Runs Eats Performs for female runners of all abilities who are looking for simple ways to improve their running performance and their health with nutrition and lifestyle.
We enjoy sharing our nutritional expertise, reviewing the latest sports science and most of all helping you to take easy action so you can enjoy your running life to the full.
We are here to help you achieve great health and good shape whilst staying injury-free with easy-to-understand sports nutritional concepts and easy-to-implement tips and plans.

Aileen and Karen are BANT and CNHC Registered Nutritional Therapists.