Avoiding Cramping: Easy Said Hard To Do


Christian Stringer

An athlete tears open a packet of mustard to deal with muscle cramps from practice.

Christian Stringer, Writer

20, 15, 10… and he pulls up grabbing his calf. He has caught a cramp about 10 yards away from the endzone. This will definitely have a huge impact with him having out for the rest of the game against their biggest rival: Mountain View. A muscle cramp is a sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more of your muscles. Long periods of exercise or physical labor, particularly in hot weather, can lead to muscle cramps. But there surely there has to be a way for athletes to prepare for hot games and prevent cramps?

“First of all, every day, you need to drink half your body weight in ounces. But when it’s hot, your body goes through more, so while working out in hot conditions, you need to replenish your fluids throughout the workout. If it’s 45 minutes or longer, then you need also to add electrolytes, so that would be anything like Gatorade. The main reason athletes cramp is low sodium and that’s what you will find in Gatorade.” said PE Teacher/Nutritionist, Marissa Shoaf.

If athletes aren’t eating right, their bodies won’t be able to fulfill their needs during hot games. Nutrition is medicine and what you eat can play hand in hand with what happens out on the field.

“Sometimes for some people, too much vitamin C causes gastric distress. So you would want to stay away from those. The best thing to do is practice what you’re going to eat before practice. Eat that and then if it works out for practice and it’s going to work out for a game” Ms. Shoaf Said.

Depending on how much workload is in their respective sports, different athletes have a variety of ways to prepare for a hot game so they don’t cramp up.

“I don’t usually eat because that’s how I have developed my body before games, I drink one liquid Iv which I put in my water, and I do a lot of calf stretches because I am susceptible to calf cramps,” Said Lacrosse player, Thomas Dowd (’22).

After a cramp occurs, it’s known for some athletes to drain down a pack of mustard. The body uses acetic acid to produce acetylcholine, which is essential for leg muscle contractions. Yellow Mustard is the only kind of mustard documented to relieve leg cramps.

“Prior to a cramp I usually get a pack of mustard to take with some water. Then I do a lot of stretching to get rid of it and drink a lot more water.” Said Lacrosse player, Sophie Crane (’23).