Wondering how to keep your quad muscle from cramping when you work out?
Quad cramping can be a painful nuisance that gets in the way of your workout goals. When you have cramps that strike without warning, it can seem impossible to get them to stop. However, there are ways to solve the problem of quadricep cramps!
In this guide, we’ll go over everything you need to know about quad cramping so you can stop it in its tracks. Keep reading to learn how to keep your workouts cramp-free!
What is a Muscle Cramp?
You probably know what a quad muscle cramp feels like – but what is it, exactly?
When you get a quad cramp, your muscles are suddenly, involuntarily contracting. Cramps can affect a single muscle or a group of muscles at a time. They can also be incredibly painful.
These cramps typically aren’t harmful in any serious way. However, they can make it so you have to stop using the muscle for a while until the cramp stops. If you’re serious about working out, these cramps can seriously get in the way.
Muscle cramps are often related to exercising for a long period of time, especially if it’s hot out. A few medical conditions and medications can also make quad cramps more likely. Luckily, there are ways to treat this issue at home – you don’t need to see a doctor.
Muscle Cramp Symptoms
These cramps can happen anywhere on the body, but they’re most common in the leg muscles, which is why quad cramping is so common. You’ll feel a sharp, sudden pain, and you might even be able to see the muscle hardening and contracting under the skin.
Should You See a Doctor?
These cramps are almost always harmless. However, there are a few cases when you should make an appointment with a doctor.
Book an appointment if your cramps:
- Are severely uncomfortable
- Include redness, skin changes, or swelling of the legs
- Come alongside muscle weakness
- Happen more often than normal
- Don’t get better with at-home care
- Don’t seem to have a clear cause, like exercise
Muscle Cramp Causes
The more you understand about what causes quad muscle cramps, the easier they are to prevent. Let’s take a look at the medical reasons why you might be having this problem when you work out.
1. Not Enough Blood Supply
When the arteries that take blood to your leg become narrowed, you might feel cramping during your exercise routine. Most of the time, the cramp will go away when you stop exercising if this is the cause.
2. Compressed Nerves
When the nerves in your spine become compressed, the result can be a painful cramping in the legs. If you keep walking or exercising, this kind of pain tends to get worse. If you flex your spine forward a little bit, you can sometimes help keep your symptoms at bay.
3. Mineral Depletion
If you don’t get enough magnesium, calcium, or potassium, you’re much more likely to get quad cramps. If you take diuretics, you’re even more likely to have a shortage of these minerals.
A few other causes of quad cramping can include dehydration, using the same muscle too much, straining the muscle, or holding it in the same position for too long. These causes are harmless, but easy to avoid.
As you get older, you’re more prone to cramps, since you’ll lose muscle mass. Muscle cramps are also more likely to happen if you’re pregnant and if you have diabetes or certain disorders of the liver, nerves, or thyroid.
How to Prevent Quad Muscle Cramps
If you don’t have a medical condition that makes cramping more likely, you should easily be able to keep cramps at bay. Just follow these steps.
Drinking plenty of water is one of the easiest ways to keep your quads happy. Many medical professionals believe that dehydration is the leading cause of muscle cramps. And, of course, there are plenty of other benefits to drinking water, especially if you’re an athlete.
2. Take Electrolytes
Electrolytes help you stay hydrated. They also help keep your levels of essential nutrients like potassium and sodium high, so you can keep cramps away. You can choose a sports drink to get your electrolytes, or to stay even healthier, eat a banana.
3. Take Vitamins
Some studies show that certain vitamins can help keep your muscles from cramping up. Even if they can’t prevent cramps entirely, they can make them less painful. Try taking a vitamin that has zinc, magnesium, and vitamins B, D, and E for best results.
4. Do Jumping Drills
Cramps are sometimes caused by the tiny nerves in your muscles getting worn out. However, you can easily keep those nerves energized by doing some jumping drills. After working out, do these drills two or three times a week, and you should see fewer muscle spasms.
5. Don’t Skip the Warm-up
Warming up and cooling down are essential for keeping your quads and other muscles from cramping. Make sure you have an appropriate amount of warm-up and cool-down time for every workout. Don’t skimp on stretching.
How to Treat Quad Cramps
Despite your best efforts, you might still get a cramp from time to time. Here’s how to fix them once they start.
1. Stretch Out
As soon as your muscle stops spasming, get down and stretch it out. You can also massage the muscle to really help it relax and keep the cramps away.
2. Give Yourself a Break
When you get a cramp, take a break from exercising. If you attempt to push through, you’ll probably make the pain worse.
3. Pick Up Medications
Anti-inflammatory meds can help keep your muscles from feeling sore after a cramp. However, make sure you check in with your doctor before taking a new kind of medication.
Say Goodbye to Muscle Cramps
Follow these steps, and your quad muscle cramps should all but disappear. If you still get cramps on more than an occasional basis, you should make an appointment with your doctor to rule out any underlying medical causes.
The fewer cramps you have, the more easily you can focus on your workouts. Getting ready for a triathlon? Check out our guide to strength training here.