During game 1 of the NBA Finals, versatile Miami Heat player LeBron James suffered painful leg cramps, and was carried off the court before the end of the game, setting off numerous Internet memes of his injury. The memes were funny, but take it from someone who pulled her sciatic nerve, the pain is no joke. The leg cramping is never-ending, the muscle spasms scary, and the fear that the strain will come back is never far from the mind. Injuries in sports are inevitable, so here are a few reminders to reduce the risk of muscle pains for your workout routine:
STRETCH LIKE A RUBBER BAND: Stretching before and after a workout helps to increase flexibility, but also corrects proper postures by lengthening muscles, increases blood flow, and warms up the body for the intended activity. Stretching also helps to relax the mind, as well as bring focus and awareness to sore areas. Our dance classes use the first portion of the course to practice various stretching exercises, but you should feel comfortable stretching afterwards as well. Yoga, pilates or even a short walk are excellent activities to get body ready for your workout.
STAY HYDRATED*: Because of sweat, the body will excrete sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium; as a precaution, the body will release minerals firstly to the brain and organs, which means less urgently-needed parts will dehydrate faster, and cause muscle cramps. The main thing is to never wait for a water break – drink as much water as you need to. If your workout area starts to become too hot for you, make sure to cool down and take a break. LeBron took a time out** – so you can too!
HELLO…IS IT ME YOU’RE LOOKING FOR? If excessive muscle pain occurs, you might want to change activities, or reduce the frequency. The body joints are going to take a beating if you continue to drive yourself too hard – it’s ok to take a break in-between your routine (5 minutes here and there) or even days off (to let the body recuperate). Tennis elbow, a sore shoulder or a sensitive back will haunt and hinder you if you don’t ease up. There’s a difference between being active and healthy, and worn down because of it!
HAVE A 1-ON-1 CONVERSATION – WITH YOURSELF! We all want to reach our goals and push through the pain, but don’t stress out. Take your time learning whatever sport or dance routine, and enjoy the process. Your body needs to adjust to the movements, the workout surrounding (ex. hot yoga) and the frequency of the exercise. Be good to your body
– it will take good care of you in the future. To quote the fantastic song “Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)”: “be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.”
*Please note these are general guidelines, and not specific medical rules. Consult your doctor or sports trainer for more help/questions on training and workout routines.
**The Miami Heat lost to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 – but I don’t think LeBron’s break was the only reason for the loss!