Illustration by Julien Tromeur

Nothing puts a kink in a good workout like a bad muscle cramp. Muscles shorten and lengthen when they contract (read: work). But sometimes, a few rogue spots stay tight, leading to that familiar — and pretty awful — pain known as a cramp. Muscles can cramp for up to six hours after exercise, so this potential pain isn’t a gym-only problem! Here’s the low-down and keeping cramps away.

  • Keep hydrated. Many experts suggest dehydration could be a key cause of cramping.
  • Electrolyte yourself. A lack of electrolytes like potassium and sodium could be to blame for those side stitches, so sip some Gatorade or eat a banana before working out.
  • Warm up. Going into a workout cold increases the risk of cramping, so make sure to get those muscles moving before upping the intensity.

Read on for more tips to avoid muscle cramps.

The Takeaway: Stay hydrated and warm up to prevent muscle cramps.

Foam Roll

Foam rolling is a great way to combat muscle soreness.

Aging Muscles

Muscle cramps can also crop up more as we age.