Muscle cramps are a frequent and serious issue for athletes who return to the football field during the sweltering month of August. In order to avoid injuries and ensure a safe season, there are certain nutritional precautions that should be observed while practicing in the summer heat. Nutrition is just as valuable to an athlete’s health as aerobic exercise or strength training. In addition, it is an essential factor in avoiding muscle cramps.
One of the most important nutritional areas to observe is fluid intake, especially during periods of extreme heat. In order to avoid cramps and dehydration, athletes should ensure that they are drinking six to ten glasses of water per day. It is especially important to consume water before, during and after practice, since exercise can cause the loss of up to two liters of water an hour. According to experts in the field, athletes should avoid drinking only when they feel thirsty since this can seriously affect their performance.
Another factor that can contribute to muscle cramps is the imbalance of electrolytes in the body. These electrolytes, commonly found in sodium and potassium, trigger your muscles to contract and relax by carrying an electric charge. The balance between sodium and potassium can be disrupted due to dehydration, so it is important for an athlete to stay hydrated in order to maintain their electrolytes.
Lastly, mineral deficiency can also increase an athlete’s chances of suffering muscle cramps. Aside from sodium and potassium, there are other minerals such as calcium or magnesium that are important for your body. Too much or too little of these minerals can easily cause cramping and as such, it is important to obtain sufficient amounts in your diet.
In the unfortunate event of a muscle cramp, there are temporary treatments that can be practiced. Gently stretching the muscle in question, although painful, can help the muscle to relax and cause immediate relief. In addition, it is a good idea to apply ice or massage the muscle while stretching.
If all of the factors previously described are not properly observed, especially during the month of August, they can easily lead to muscle cramps and other serious injuries. Thus, maintaining proper levels of hydration, keeping a sound diet and getting proper exercise are all important for an athlete’s well-being and overall success.