Lucy McCormick guides us through how to prevent cramp. One thing that every windsurfer has had in their time.
No one wants to come off the water early from a session due to cramp, whether it is in your arms or legs it’s pretty annoying, as well as being painful! This month we will look at how you can help to prevent cramp and in turn keep on the water for longer.
Cramps are muscle spasms which occur when one or a number of your muscles involuntary contract, causing an unpleasant pain in the area cramp has struck. Cramps can occur in different areas of the body, however, for windsurfers the most common cramp sites are in the legs (calf and foot), arms and hands.
There are a number of reasons why we get cramp; dehydration and nutrient deficiency all contribute to cramp, as well as the overuse of certain muscles, poor flexibility and poor physical condition – although if you followed last month’s video you should be well on your way to peak physical fitness!
That’s a fair few causes of cramps, but by working on each potential aspect we can help prevent the unnecessary pain caused by them.
Below are a few tips to get you started:
· Prior, during and after a session it is of vital importance to stay hydrated. Without the right amount of fluid in your body your balance of electrolytes will alter and will not only cause the body to function inefficiently but also increase the chances of getting cramp. Make sure you stay topped up with fluids and remember that after a ‘big night out’ it is of even more importance to drink water because alcohol will dehydrated you, upping the risk of cramp.
· Magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium deficiencies have all been linked as causes of muscle cramps. To ensure the appropriate levels are maintained stay hydrated as I have mentioned above, but also ensure that you are getting the right nutrient intake. A healthy balanced diet will assist with meeting your recommend nutritional intake, so sure you include plenty of nutrient rich foods!
· When we windsurf we use a lot of muscles to a variety of degrees – this can lead to us working some muscles excessively for a long period of time, resulting in overuse of muscles and potentially cramp! To assist with preventing cramp and muscle soreness we should keep our bodies in good condition – making sure to exercise regularly – which will encourage good physical condition and increased flexibility.
One of the most important things to help prevent cramp during and after a session is to warm-up your muscles efficiently before heading out onto the water, and by doing an effective cool down after your session. It only needs to take 5 minutes but it will make all the difference in preventing the onset of cramp. Below is an effective warm-up routine that can be done before a windsurfing session and a cool down that can be done post windsurf. Both are quick and effective!
Warming-up prior to windsurfing is really important, it will get your body ready for the battering it’s going to be put through and get your muscles ready for action. Each of the exercises in the video (apart from the sit ups) can be performed for a certain amount of time depending on your fitness. For beginners start at 30 seconds of each and then progress for up to a minute as your fitness improves – this will ensure an effective all over body warm up. With the sit ups I recommend doing 15 – 20 to get the abs warmed up and ready to go!
With all the exercise in the warm up section make sure to maintain a neutral spine with good posture and form throughout.
It is just as important to cool down your body after exercise as it is putting enough downhaul on your sail. It will help bring your body back down to a normal pace slowly and help with improving flexibility and preventing muscle soreness. It doesn’t have to take long, just make sure you stretch all over your body. This will also help to prevent post windsurf cramps!
Follow each of the stretches shown on the video for a awesome full body cool down – make sure you hold each stretch for 20 seconds.
REMEMBER TO CONSULT A DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING PART IN ANY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Wrists and ankles are often forgotten in a warm up, but they are a must for windsurfers. Ensure both wrists and ankles are stretched thoroughly prior to hitting the water – check out the pictures below.
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