How to cope with cramp
Cramping is a common problem for players at every level - find out what causes it, and what you can do to treat and even prevent it.
There’s only one thing worse that watching a player writhe around court in agony with cramp – and that’s experiencing the debilitating problem yourself.
Cramping is a common problem for players at every level, most often affecting the hard-working muscles in the legs and occasionally, the arms.
In its simplest terms, cramp occurs when a muscle spasms and refuses to relax. Pain can range from mild to severe, and the cramp can last from anything from seconds to minutes. In many cases, cramp recurs.
While the causes of cramp are not fully understood, there are common contributing factors:
1) Ensure you have a proper warm up and cool down, with a focus on stretching.
2) Ensure fluid intake is adequate and your diet is nutritious.
3) Maintain good fitness.
1) Gently stretch and massage affected muscles, to help return the muscle to its natural position.
2) Contraction of the muscles that oppose the action of the cramping muscles. For example, contracting the hamstrings if the quads are cramping may help.
3) Applying ice may assist to prevent cramps from recurring.
4) Increasing fluids – or a sports drinks boosted by electrolytes – will help in instances where cramp appears the result of dehydration. If you know you’ll be competing or training in higher temperatures than usual, increase fluids accordingly.
When your muscles have relaxed and the pain subsided you can return to court. It’s never a good idea to play through pain, and cramp is a condition that can commonly reoccur throughout matches.
Anyone who experiences cramp on a frequent basis is advised to seek professional advice from a sports physician.
For more tips from the experts on how to improve your game, check out the latest edition of Australian Tennis Magazine.